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1604, 2021

Time For Ingenuity To Fly

By |April 16th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|

It's nothing but helicopter talk these days! And what exciting days are these. There are so many opportunities to engage kids of all ages with books and activities tied to the small helicopter now sitting on the surface of Mars, named Ingenuity. Perhaps it is because of the helicopters small size at just four pounds, and roughly the size of a large dog, but children are drawn to images of [...]

1604, 2021

Learn to Facilitate Creative Learning in Public Libraries

By |April 16th, 2021|Categories: Engineering, Informal Learning, Math, Science, STEM, Technology|

We’re excited to announce that the PLIX (Public Library Innovation Exchange) team is launching a four-week online course starting April 26th on the topic of Facilitating Creative Learning. This is a chance to delve into the facilitation side of creative learning, exploring some big ideas as well as practical tips around leadership and implementation of STEAM activities. PLIX connects public library professionals and MIT Media Lab researchers to co-design learning [...]

704, 2021

Join NASA as a Webb Space Telescope Community Events Site

By |April 7th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the largest, most powerful and complex space telescope ever built and launched into space. It will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe. This telescope will complement and extend the range of Hubble, and will be the largest telescope ever placed in space; 100 times more powerful than Hubble. As James Webb is scheduled to launch in October 2021 and prepares to begin [...]

2903, 2021

(Resource List) Celebrate Citizen Science Month with SciStarter and STAR Net

By |March 29th, 2021|Categories: Science|

Celebrate Citizen Science Month with SciStarter and STAR Net – Link Bank Presenters Claire Ratcliffe Adams Space Science Institute Caroline Nickerson SciStarter Webinar Recording: Citizen Science Resources Main Citizen Science Month Landing Page: Library Resources from SciStarter: Library Kits: Featured Citizen Science Month Projects: All of Us Research Program: More about the All of Us Research program: Library and Community Guide: [...]

2303, 2021

Gratitude/Kindness Rocks: Where Science and Art Meet

By |March 23rd, 2021|Categories: Community Engagement|

By Donna Blomquist and Brittany Blomquist LaSalle Public Library Celebrate trees from April 15 to May 15, 2021 by joining the GLOBE citizen science community in the 2021 Community Trees Challenge: Science is Better Together! Connect science and art using the GLOBE Observer: Trees to extend popular rock painting into your library STEAM program. Rocks provide an endless canvas for creativity – here are a few ideas to get you [...]

2303, 2021

2021 Community Trees Challenge: Science is Better Together!

By |March 23rd, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|

-Shared from our friends at GLOBE- Are you looking for programming ideas for Earth Day or Citizen Science Month? Libraries are invited to join the 2021 Community Trees Challenge when the GLOBE Program is asking the public to observe, learn, engage, and create as they track their progress on the Trees Challenge activity tracker from April 15-May 15. Learn more at While getting out and taking observations might not be [...]

103, 2021

It’s Going To Get Better and Better

By |March 1st, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|

I know the internet is awash in coverage of the Perseverance Rover's recent successful landing on Mars on 2/18/21, so why am I posting on the subject? I felt compelled to after the questions posed to me by a 3rd grader during a video Q&A after a recent presentation about Perseverance. The 3rd graders are currently in the middle of their Solar System research, and a few students that had [...]

2302, 2021

Engineering Program Toolkit

By |February 23rd, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|

Over the course of several years, Project BUILD team members and partner libraries have developed a wide range of resources to support library staff that are interested in developing, promoting, and facilitating engineering programs in their library.  We’ve categorized these resources into separate groups and listed them out here (some may appear more than once). We hope that you will utilize or feel inspired by them as you bring engineering [...]

2202, 2021

(Resource List) We Are Water: Community Water Connections in the Four Corners Region

By |February 22nd, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|

  We Are Water: Community Water Connections in the Four Corners Region - Link Bank Presenters Claire Ratcliffe Adams Space Science Institute Patricia (Patty) Montaño CIRES Education & Outreach Associate Brigitta Rongstad CIRES Education & Outreach Anne U. Gold Director CIRES Education & Outreach Webinar Recording: Sign Up to Receive FREE World Water Day Activities: Follow We Are Water Newsletter Signup: STAR Net [...]

702, 2021

NASA’s Universe of Learning Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA “Program Cookbook”

By |February 7th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|

Provided by the GSAWN Team The Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA (GSAWN) project within NASA’s Universe of Learning empowers libraries and community-based organizations to engage girls and their families in exploring the wonders of NASA science and celebrate the contributions of women to science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). This Program Cookbook is designed to guide you as you create your own Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA event using [...]

101, 2021

Looking Forward and Looking Back with Story Musgrave

By |January 1st, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|

I am sure you, like most of us at this time of year we take a moment to look back on the year, to think of the future and in a year like 2020 to maybe take a few looks sideways as well!  One of my favorite things that happened in the year 2020 was the launch of the Perseverance  Rover on a mission to Mars to begin securing samples [...]

3012, 2020

STEAM Engines from home: the busiest physicists

By |December 30th, 2020|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Physics, Science, STEM, Virtual Presentations|

Towards the end of summer, I fell victim to one of those AMAZING PAINTING YOU WILL BE MESMERIZED type videos floating around on social media. I admit that, like a cartoon squirrel presented with a decoy nut, I am easily captivated. I am handily distracted by cookie decorating videos. TRANSFORM THIS OLD WHATCHAMACALLIT INTO SOMETHING (objectively useless but still) COOL videos regularly siphon valuable minutes off my life. But readers, [...]

312, 2020

A Woman of Many Firsts

By |December 3rd, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

(Astronaut Christina Koch working on board the ISS, image credit: NASA) NASA astronaut Christina Koch has already set numerous records in her brief career with the agency. I recently had the opportunity to interview Christina via telephone from her home in Houston, Texas. I ask how she is feeling these days after her record setting 328 day stay onboard the International Space Station (ISS)?  "I feel really good. I have [...]

2811, 2020

STEAM Engines: Nephology

By |November 28th, 2020|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Science, STEM|

We had a beautiful summer in Skokie, and though I really miss being in the library and getting to see all of our eager young science friends, There have been some real silver linings (cloud reference segue absolutely intended!). Always somewhat outdoorsy, this summer, the kids and I spent an unprecedented amount of time outside, taking walks, playing in the yard, and a new game - watching for shapes in [...]

711, 2020

(Resource List) Computational Thinking: Empowering Teens to be Creators of Technology

By |November 7th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Follow the STAR Library Network Featured STAR Net Activities (Unplugged) Clearinghouse “Computational Thinking” Collection Binary Bead Craft: Bracelet (or Necklace) Version Passion for Pixels Something is Different About You Anomaly Adventures: Through the Eyes of a Computer Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set Featured STAR Net Activities (Plugged-In) SciGames Rover Coder and other free apps Computational Thinking [...]

2810, 2020

New Community Dialogue Resources to Support Equity in Your Library

By |October 28th, 2020|Categories: Community Engagement, Dialogue, Dialogue, Informal Learning|Tags: , |

The STAR Net team has been hard at work gathering resources to support Community Dialogues (including virtual dialogues during COVID) from around the informal education world. Consider these resources a sneak peak of the new STAR Net Community Dialogue site that's coming soon. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our draft resources, and feel free to reach out to us with questions or comments! To access all the new [...]

2610, 2020

World Origami Days are Here! 20 Days of Workshops and Tutorials

By |October 26th, 2020|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Like so many conferences, festivals, and other events, World Origami Days has gone virtual this year. Beginning on October 24, the birthday of Lillian Oppenheimer (1898-1992), who founded the first origami group in the USA and was one of the founders of OrigamiUSA and the British Origami Society, this event will host workshops and tutorials daily through November 11, which is Origami Day in Japan. Everyone who registers will receive [...]

2610, 2020

Cornell is offering an E-STEM Education course – Register by October 28!

By |October 26th, 2020|Categories: environmental education, General|Tags: , , |

Hello everyone! I browsed my way to this course being offered by Cornell University the other day, and contacted the administrators.  They have agreed to extend the registration deadline until October 28 so that I could get the word out to.  It looks like a great opportunity, so if you can, take advantage.   E-STEM Education is designed for teachers and nonformal educators who want to help youth become scientifically [...]

2610, 2020

Application Deadlines for DiscoverE’s Outreach Grants Are Approaching Fast

By |October 26th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Application deadlines for DiscoverE's outreach grants are approaching fast! Don't miss your chance to fund your events for Engineers Week and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. APPLY TODAY! We have $250-$1000 grants available for virtual and in-person programs: Due Oct 31: Bell Girl Day grants for girl-centered programs Due Nov 14: Engineers Week grants for underserved students Looking for more resources in engineering outreach? Check out our best practices [...]

2610, 2020

Virtualizing Your Programs and Activities

By |October 26th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Have you felt like remote learning during COVID-19 has been hectic and stressful? You are not alone and it doesn’t have to feel that way going forward. Join MMSA's ACRES Project today and participate in highly interactive coaching sessions. The ACRES Project brings together afterschool educators in live and interactive virtual workshops. They create small communities of reflection, so you have a safe and brave space to learn new skills. They offer you [...]

2410, 2020

A Chill in the Air and Color in the Trees

By |October 24th, 2020|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Science, Spacial Thinking, STEM, Tutorials, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

There's been a bit of a chill in the air the last week or so, a frequent thumping on the roof of pecans falling out of the tree in the yard, and a sense of frantic feasting radiating from the hummingbirds who frequent the feeders on my porch.  Autumn is here. One of my favorite things to do as the seasons slip away from summer and toward winter is to [...]

2110, 2020

(Resource List) STEAM Learning in Public Libraries: A “Guide on the Side” Approach for Inclusive Learning

By |October 21st, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

STEAM Learning in Public Libraries: A "Guide on the Side" Approach for Inclusive Learning Webinar Resources Presenters: Brooks Mitchell, Education Coordinator II, STAR Net/Space Science Institute Claire Ratcliffe Adams, Education Coordinator II, STAR Net/Space Science Institute Keliann LaConte, Professional Development Manager, STAR Net/Space Science Institute   Publication Resources Association for Library Service to Children Children & Libraries journal Article: STEAM Learning in Public Libraries: A “Guide on the Side” [...]

1310, 2020

A Magnetic Attraction

By |October 13th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

If you are al all like me, you have been revisiting how to best present STEAM programming in the current COVID-19 environment. While every town has different levels of protocols in place, most in-person events have been put on hold, and while I have had a lot of success with some online events, I know young people are more engaged by hands-on activities. I have two opportunities I would like [...]

1010, 2020

STEAM Engines from home: Catapults!

By |October 10th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Moving our STEAM Engines programming to an online, recorded format has been a treat and a learning experience as we struggle to find relatable, interesting content for kids each month. In person, it is important to me to root our STEM concept in art, literature, and music, so I typically begin each program with a read-aloud. As we have moved the program online, copyright has made finding supplementary reading and [...]

610, 2020

Libraries Invited to Bring Engineering and Engineers to their Community: A Virtual Program during November 2020

By |October 6th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is partnering with the STAR Library Network (STAR Net) and its Project BUILD engineering program. Project BUILD is supported by the National Science Foundation. We invite public libraries across the country to participate in an exciting virtual engineering experience this coming November called Dream – Build – Create, an introduction to engineers and engineering for people of all ages, especially families and children. [...]

1609, 2020

Story Time from Space: Live Downlink

By |September 16th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

LIVE DOWNLINK TO BE RESCHEDULED Unfortunately, this downlink will have to be rescheduled by NASA. Until then, enjoy all of the other Story Time From Space readings & science videos on   Story Time From Space is having their first LIVE DOWNLINK from the International Space Station on Monday, September 21, 2020 at 10:30 am Central. For this live downlink, Astronaut CAPT Chris Cassidy will be doing a live reading of the book, Willow the [...]

1409, 2020

(Resource List) Culturally Responsive STEAM Programming: Engaging Latinx Communities in Rural Areas

By |September 14th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

STEAM Equity Webinar Resource List Contact Claire Ratcliffe ( or BeeBee Browne ( for questions Guest Presenters: Veronica Casanova, Librarian IV, Tulare County Library System, Exeter Branch Library   Flo Trujillo, President of REFORMA New Mexico   Miguel Ruiz, Supervising Librarian, Evanston Public Library   Keliann LaConte, Principle Investigator, STEAM Equity project Professional Development Manager, STAR Net/Space Science Institute   Culturally Responsive Resources: Reforma de Nuevo México [...]

909, 2020

(Resource List) Level Up Your Facilitation and be a “Guide on the Side” for Virtual and In-Person STEAM Programs

By |September 9th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Hi everyone! This is the resource list of links for the CAL 2020 Pre-Conference Workshop, Level Up Your Facilitation and be a "Guide on the Side" for Virtual and In-Person STEAM Programs.  Contacts: Anne Holland ( Brooks Mitchell ( Claire Ratcliffe ( Keliann LaConte ( Workshop Agenda The STAR Library Network (STAR Net) Guide on the Side website Guide on the Side video Guide on the Side flyer STEM Activity Clearinghouse: [...]

809, 2020

SciStarter: Resources for Libraries

By |September 8th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Citizen Science and Libraries With support from the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, SciStarter and Arizona State University (ASU) are supporting libraries and community-based organizations as hubs for citizen science. In addition to offering turnkey citizen science kits for libraries, the team provides training and materials, including the Library and Community Guide to Citizen Science (discoverable on, to [...]

709, 2020

Steam From Home: Side Scooper

By |September 7th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Around May of 2020, it became pretty clear that library programming was going to look different for the foreseeable future. Having successfully produced the Saponify! video, it seemed like, while not a perfect vehicle, a regular STEAM video program could serve as a stand in for my in-person monthly STEAM Engines program. Hence, the STEAM Engines from home series began. We rolled out a plan for two videos, produced monthly, [...]

3108, 2020

Tweens and STEM in the Library

By |August 31st, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

The National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) at the Space Science Institute closed out its partnership with the Urban Libraries Council’s Partners for Middle School STEM project. The project, which kicked off in January 2019, brought together 10 public library systems to create and implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs for underserved youth, ages 10-13. NCIL Education Coordinators, Brooks Mitchell and Claire Ratcliffe, and Professional Development Manager, Keliann [...]

3108, 2020

Closing the Gender Gap: Developing Gender Equitable STEAM Programs

By |August 31st, 2020|Categories: STEM|

Closing the Gender Gap: Developing Gender Equitable STEAM Programs Webinar Resources Contact: Claire Ratcliffe ( for questions Guest Presenters: Niki Becker STEM Specialist, Twin Cities PBS STEM Media and Education Kristin Pederson Senior Director, Twin Cities PBS STEM Media and Education STEM Project Development and Communications Keliann LaConte Principle Investigator, STEAM Equity project Professional Development Manager, STAR Net/Space Science Institute SciGirls Resources: · SciGirls Connect - [...]

2608, 2020

Earth Citizen Science with GLOBE Observer Resource List

By |August 26th, 2020|Categories: STEM|

Earth Citizen Science with GLOBE Observer Resource List 8/27/2020 Contact: Claire Ratcliffe ( Guest Presenters: Theresa Schwerin Vice President, Education Programs Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Donna Blomquist Youth Services Librarian LaSalle Public Library Brittany Blomquist Program Outreach Coordinator LaSalle Public Library Vivienne Byrd STEAM Librarian III Los Angeles Public Library Citizen Science Resources: GLOBE Observer: Elementary GLOBE  - Library Video Resources  Making Observations with GLOBE Observer [...]

2408, 2020

Virtual Community Dialogues

By |August 24th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

2020 has not been the year anyone expected. In the first three months of the new year businesses were shuttered, schools closed, millions unemployed, and for libraries across the country, in-person programming ended. Community leaders at libraries and other organizations felt a desperate need to impact their communities in a relevant way. Libraries acknowledged the digital divide - moving WIFI routers to the front of their buildings for patrons in [...]

1408, 2020

Quarantine and the Moon

By |August 14th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Left to Right, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin in the Mobil Quarantine Facility are pictured with president Nixon onboard the USS Hornet. Image Credit: NASA Almost everyone knows the date that astronauts first walked on the Moon, July 20, 1969. Another lesser known date is when the Apollo 11 astronauts were finishing up the last day of their three-week quarantine  exactly 51 years this week in August 1969. [...]

1208, 2020

Strengthen Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in STEM

By |August 12th, 2020|Categories: Informal Learning, STEM, Uncategorized|

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility are fundamental values in the library community. The work to strengthen these areas is necessary and ongoing and can be done at the personal level, as a team, and with our communities. Below are some resources to help guide the journey towards ensuring people, especially those facing the greatest barriers in our society, have equitable and accessible opportunities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). [...]

1008, 2020

Beyond S-T-E-A-M: Playing, Creating, and Exploring

By |August 10th, 2020|Categories: Community Engagement|

Credit: Muhlenberg Community Library Some of us associate science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics ("STEAM") with FUN and MEANING for ourselves and our friends and family. We might imagine rockets blasting into space and the excitement of exploring the universe, or we might appreciate the chemicals in our sunscreen that keep us safe from UV. We might even realize how much STEAM is in our favorite hobbies, from the [...]

508, 2020

NASA Subject Matter Expert (SME) Videos to Share with Your Patrons!

By |August 5th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

If you've attended a STAR Net webinar, workshop, or other training event, you may have heard our team talk about the importance of introducing your patrons to subject matter experts (SMEs), such as engineers, scientists, technicians, and more. SMEs can inspire your patrons and take the burden of "content knowledge" off of library staff. Patrons that do not often see themselves represented in STEAM fields may really appreciate and benefit from seeing [...]

3107, 2020

Resource Guide: Black Lives in Astronomy

By |July 31st, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

"Black Lives in Astronomy," a new 8-page resource guide by astronomer/educator Andrew Fraknoi, includes written and video resources about and by 25 black astronomers, as well as general materials to examine the history and issues facing black members of the astronomical community. Both older, established scientists and people early in their careers are covered. It is aimed at the Astro 101 and amateur astronomer level, and thus does not include [...]

2707, 2020

STEAM From Home: Soap Magic

By |July 27th, 2020|Categories: Arts, Chemistry, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Science, STEM, Uncategorized|

Like everyone else, the question of connection looms large during this pandemic. Connection with patrons, connecting ideas - how to provide these meaningful experiences remotely? Especially STEAM for a young audience. When so much of the learning is experiential, how can we can reach our patrons? I have a glass half full (depending on the day) situation wherein I have two naturally curious, creative, youngsters at home, one of whom [...]

1707, 2020

Resources for “STEAM for Everyone”; CAL’s Power & Privilege at Play Conference (7.17.20)

By |July 17th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Hi everyone! This is a quick resource list for the presentation, "STEAM for Everyone: A Stepping Stone Approach to Overcoming Barriers to Access," taking place through the Colorado Association of Library's  Power and Privilege at Play: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity in the Library virtual conference on July 17, 2020. High Plains Library District  Greeley Rodarte Center Follow the STAR Library Network Ready, Set, Create Logo: Engineering Design [...]

1607, 2020

Enough Space For Us All

By |July 16th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Image credit: The Planetary Society I often have people come up to me after presentations to ask how they can be more involved. It is a great question, and there are so many great answers. First of all there are membership organizations. These are usually annual memberships with an associated fee, and options such as a regular magazine (that you can choose a digital or print magazine mailed to you). [...]

1407, 2020

2020 Community Cloud Challenge

By |July 14th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Join the NASA GLOBE 2020 Community Cloud Challenge! Whether your library programs have gone virtual, curbside, or you’re able to host in-person events, you can invite your patrons to discover clouds from a new perspective. We all share the same sky with a wide variety of clouds in it. This is unique opportunity to learn about clouds together. Choose how to participate Take observations: Observe clouds or sky conditions using the [...]

607, 2020

Resources for “Take Your Patrons to Mars” Webinar (7.7.20)

By |July 6th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Link Bank for Take Your Patrons to Mars Webinar – 7 July 2020 Presenters: Brooks Mitchell and Claire Ratcliffe (STAR Net), Christine Shupla, Sha’Rell Webb, and Dr. Candice Bedford (Lunar and Planetary Institute) Contact: Brooks Mitchell ( or Christine Shupla ( for questions. Description: NASA is about to launch the Mars 2020 mission – and now is the time to get your patrons excited! The Perseverance rover will launch between July [...]

1606, 2020

Resource List for 6.18.20 Webinar: Virtual Night Sky Programs for “Imagine Your Story”

By |June 16th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Hi everyone! This blog is a list of resources for our June 18, 2020 webinar, "Virtual Night Sky Programs for 'Imagine Your Story'” - you can find out more information about the webinar here.  Presenters: Brooks Mitchell (STAR Net), Christine Shupla and Sha’Rell Webb (Lunar and Planetary Institute), Belinda Calvillo and Liliana Alonso [with Sofia] (Pasadena Public Library, TX) Contact: Brooks Mitchell ( or Christine Shupla ( for questions. Invite your [...]

1206, 2020

(Resource List) STAR Net’s STEAM Equity Project Pre-Application Webinar

By |June 12th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Hi everyone! Thanks to everyone who was able to join us on June 16, 2020 for STAR Net’s STEAM Equity Project Pre-Application Webinar. This blog post will provide more information on this grant opportunity, as well as links to the webinar recording, webinar slides, chat trancript, and resources discussed during the webinar. This webinar covered a new and exciting project, STAR Net STEAM Equity Project: Enhancing Learning Opportunities in Libraries of Rural [...]

2705, 2020

Resource List for “Virtual Programs 101: Behind the Scenes with STAR Net”

By |May 27th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , |

Hi everyone! We're trying something new for tomorrow's webinar: instead of a PDF, we're turning our "Link Bank" into a Blog Post! That way, we can edit the list and add resources that are brought up during the webinar! We can also use this as a place to post webinar follow-ups. It's just a "test run"; but we hope that it makes finding the resources easier for everyone! Best, Brooks, [...]

2605, 2020

10, 9, 8, 7….3, 2, 1, Launch America!!!

By |May 26th, 2020|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Engineering, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, NASA, Next Generation Science Standards, Science, Space Exloration, STEM, Technology, Virtual Presentations|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe, and socially distanced Memorial Day Holiday! Now to prepare for the historic event tomorrow that will mark the first launch of American astronauts into space in an American rocket from an American launchpad since the shuttle program was retired in 2011. The crew for this mission are Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley:                   They will be launching from Launch Complex [...]

2105, 2020

Julie Andrews Reads Aloud and Remote Control BirdBrain Robots

By |May 21st, 2020|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, STEM, Technology, Virtual Presentations|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Hello again! I wanted to point out two online resources that I failed to mention yesterday. One is Julie's Library.   Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton have begun offering podcast storytimes.  I first knew of  Julie Andrews as the main character in the movie "The Sound of Music," but by the time she performed in that movie she was already famous.  She'd already performed in "My Fair Lady" [...]

2005, 2020

Build Your Own Solar System and Resource Update

By |May 20th, 2020|Categories: Arts, astronomy, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, NASA, Science, STEM|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Hello everyone!  I hope everyone is healthy and at home. To start off, I want to share this really cool resource I found this morning, and which has kept me distracted (granted that isn't hard to do) for longer than I care to admit.  It's an online game in which you get to create your own solar system, and watch it develop through time.  Thankfully it isn't real time, or [...]

705, 2020

STEAM Engines: Awwwww, Spiders

By |May 7th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Sometimes the best laid plans fail, and that can feel rough, but like my daughter says “mistakes help you learn!” and she is absolutely right. This was absolutely the case with my STEAM Engines (Skokie Public Library’s science club for K-2nd grade) program about spiders. The idea to learn about spiders was birthed from a rumor (stated as a fact) that I’d heard claiming spiders do not stick to their [...]

2804, 2020

Happy Superhero Day!

By |April 28th, 2020|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

April 28 is National Superhero Day! Marvel marked the day by celebrating the heroes on all our minds and thoughts these days - nurses, doctors, EMT's, first responders, medical researchers, grocery store workers, restaurant workers offering curb-side and delivered meals, long-haulers and delivery drivers, production workers, and all the thousands of others who risk their lives daily by going to work so that the rest of us can shelter in place. [...]

2704, 2020

Aloha from Thelma Parker Memorial Public and School Library!

By |April 27th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

As we hunker down in Waimea (aka Kamuela) on the island of Hawaii, I hope this finds you doing well. I recently heard from our friends and NASA@My Library partners at the Maunakea Observatories, who recently launched an online series of STEM videos for K-12 students and families. I wanted to share this resource with you and take a moment to acknowledge the wonderful support we’ve received from Maunakea Observatories. It’s fun [...]

2304, 2020

World Book Day and GISH Scavenger Hunt for Covid-19 Relief

By |April 23rd, 2020|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Happy World Book Day, everyone! Also known as World Book and Copyright Day and International Day of the Book, this celebration that is more well-known in the U.K.  than in the U. S.  was first held in 1995.  Organized by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to promote reading, publishing, and copyright, World Book Day takes place on April 23 each year.  This particular date was chosen because [...]

404, 2020

Sounds of the Mountains Storytelling Festival, Dolly Parton, and More Available Online

By |April 4th, 2020|Categories: Arts, Community Engagement, Elementary Aged, General, Pre-School, Presentations, Uncategorized, Virtual Presentations|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Hey, everyone! I hope everyone is staying at home and healthy. I wanted to share some exciting news! Instead of canceling the Sounds of the Mountains Storytelling Festival this year, the organizers and storytellers have opted to offer it virtually, free, and forever!! In fact, I am listening to a great story as I write this blog! Please check it out. There is little in life that can beat a [...]

2903, 2020

Online Resources for Home-bound #3

By |March 29th, 2020|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Pre-School, STEM, Virtual Presentations|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Hello again!  I hope this post finds everyone staying at home and safe. It's amazing how much can be found on the internet to keep a person entertained and learning while we're hanging out at home.  I'm taking classes on all kinds of subjects from several different sites myself these days.  I'm almost finished with all the courses on  That site is like playing a game all day!  I'm [...]

2603, 2020

Online Resources for Homebound Families #2

By |March 26th, 2020|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, NASA, Pre-School, Science, Space Exloration, Uncategorized, Virtual Presentations|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Here is my next list of resources for folks staying home for health and safety  In this list I have collected some virtual tours of museums and zoos, and sites that offer collections of books that are free to read. (I'll be searching for graphic novels and comic books next.) If you find a broken link, please let me know so that I can correct it. If there is a [...]

2203, 2020

On-line Resources for Homebound Families #1

By |March 22nd, 2020|Categories: Arts, astronomy, Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Math Activities, Math games, Middle School Aged, Moon, NASA, Pre-School, Science, Space Exloration, STEM, Tutorials, Uncategorized, Virtual Presentations|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I, like the rest of the country, am at home these days.  Fortunately for me, I have always been good at keeping myself entertained.  Today though, many kids aren't as good at that as in generations past.  Anyone in my childhood household who said the word 'bored' would get such a long list of chores to do from my mother that the word would never pass through those lips again. [...]

1802, 2020

February is Feed the Birds Month!

By |February 18th, 2020|Categories: Community Engagement, Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Science|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On February 23, 1994, February was declared 'National Bird Feeding Month' by Congress. If you want to narrow things down to one day, February 3 is 'Feed the Birds Day.' February is one of the hardest months of the year for many animals in North America, especially those who depend on seeds and plants for food. That would make it the perfect time to start a new hobby - bird [...]

402, 2020

Citizen Science Month: Resources for Libraries

By |February 4th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

What is Citizen Science? As we face global challenges, we may want to find local ways to make a difference in protecting endangered species, safeguarding water sources, preventing disease, or accelerating medical research. Science needs more eyes, ears and perspectives than any scientist possesses. Enter citizen science: a collaboration between scientists and those of us who are just curious or concerned and motivated to make a difference. For researchers, citizen [...]

1501, 2020

Make Every Tree Count: Programs You Can Use

By |January 15th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Note: This blog is Part 2 of a previous post, Make Every Tree Count: Getting Started in Sustainability Programming   Host a Community Tree Walk. Because the destination must be easily accessible for library patrons of all abilities, the site, whether the library’s property, a community park, or someplace further that might require driving, such as a conservation area, should be considered with the patron in mind. Local resources, such as the [...]

1401, 2020

Make Every Tree Count: Getting Started in Sustainability Programming

By |January 14th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Trees provide one of the most versatile themes for library programs. Whether your audience is families, adults, children or classrooms/youth groups, “Trees” can provide a foundation for affordable and useful programs for libraries of all sizes -- uniting art and community with citizen science. Now is an ideal time to plan “tree-themed” programming for 2020. Not only is April 2020 Citizen Science Month, it’s also the 50th anniversary of Earth [...]

601, 2020

Cosmic Fireworks: Make Your Own Festive Galaxy with NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges

By |January 6th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

by Quyen Hart, Space Telescope Science Institute Join NASA's Universe of Learning for an exciting opportunity to use real astronomical data and tools to create your own beautiful images of the iconic starburst galaxy M82. You can capture your own real-time telescope image of M82 using the MicroObservatory robotic telescope network, or you can work with an archived set of NASA data files of M82, taken with 4 multi-wavelength space telescope [...]

3112, 2019

STEAM Engines: You Won’t See Me

By |December 31st, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

A conversation about superpowers during a STEAM Engines (Skokie Library's K-2 science club) program on the science of flight culminated in a split vote. Me: flight - I mean COME ON - vs. the kids: invisibility, which naturally meant that our next program would have to be about being invisible. It’s a real bonus when the kids are excited about the subject matter, and to be fair, I was too. [...]

2012, 2019

Ocean Acidification

By |December 20th, 2019|Categories: Chemistry, Informal Learning, Science|

This month’s Be the Scientist program for grades 3-5 focused on a single experiment about ocean acidification. It’s been a little while since we provided a more STEM based program where everyone follows along with specific instructions, but we see the value in exposing youth patrons to the scientific method while also including room for processing observations and debriefing the activity to really drive home specific concepts. Here’s what we [...]

312, 2019

Celebrate CSED Week from Dec. 9th-15th!

By |December 3rd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

Computer Science Education Week is an annual program started in 2009 to raise awareness about the growing prevalence of computing in all careers and to underscore the importance of computer science education for people of all ages. It is held every year in December (9th-15th this year) in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906). Libraries, schools, and afterschool programs around the world participate [...]

3011, 2019

STEAM Engines: falling for you

By |November 30th, 2019|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Science, STEM|

As it often does in the Midwest, the fall began in all its resplendence - sun shining through the foliage, colors changing majestically, a cozy crispness in the air. And then it snowed. A lot. And it stuck, leaving us incongruously with deep snow and trees full of not-quite-changed leaves. It was amazing to look at, a reminder that wonder exists in the unexpected. My kids and I spent Halloween [...]

1911, 2019


By |November 19th, 2019|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Science|

November programs at Skokie Public Library focused on food in a variety of ways. On Mondays, we provided an International Snack Cart showcasing local restaurants and continued our Be the Chef workshop series. To align with this theme, Be the Scientist, a hands-on STEAM program for grades 3-5, featured vermicomposting this month. Here’s what we did. Program supplies We purchased shoe-box sized plastic bins and limited the program [...]

811, 2019

Mercury is on the Main Stage Monday!

By |November 8th, 2019|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, NASA, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

There is going to be a special event this coming Monday.  The planet Mercury will be passing between the Sun and the Earth.  It's called a Mercury Transit, and it is a rare occurrence.  The next time such an event will be visible from the United States will be 2049.  There will be one in 2032 and another in 2039, but they won't be visible to anyone in North America. [...]

2810, 2019

Exploring the Lunar Surface

By |October 28th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, Be the Scientist, a STEAM program for grades 3-5, explored the lunar surface this month. This program series generally has a short slide presentation to introduce the topic and the hands on challenge. Additionally, this month we were able to feature a lunar sample disk from NASA Johnson Space Center. Here’s what we did. The program was based off of [...]

410, 2019

Art Magic With Markers

By |October 4th, 2019|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Science, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

I've had the opportunity lately to do something that I haven't been able to do in a very long time - ART! There are few things as much fun as taking brilliant colors mixing them on paper to create wonderful things.  It is important for children to have the opportunity to just play with color, and discover the the wonder of it while learning how color works and blends.  That [...]

310, 2019

Robotics With Cubelets

By |October 3rd, 2019|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Technology, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

  Over the last year or so, I've done a number of programs using Cubelets.  For anyone unfamiliar with them, they are cube-shaped modules that connect to one another magnetically to create 'robots.'  Each module has a single function.  There's a power Cube, that contains the rechargeable battery, and the On/Off switch.  The rest are divided into ' Sense Cubes,' 'Think Cubes,' and 'Act Cubes.' The Sense Cubes in the [...]

3009, 2019

Pitch and Frequency

By |September 30th, 2019|Categories: Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, STEM|

This month’s Be the Scientist program for kids in grades 3-5 returned to sound exploration like we did last Fall with the Science of Sound program. This time, we aligned it with Hispanic Heritage month to offer a suite of programs that focused on South American cultures. And the result was exploring pitch and frequency with Pipes of Pan. Here’s what we did. We started off with a brief slideshow [...]

1209, 2019

Celebrating 10 Years of Lunar Science, Exploration and Celestial Observation!

By |September 12th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

by Andrea Jones, NASA's Solar System Exploration Division 10 years ago, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and its sister mission Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) entered lunar orbit. From the interest and enthusiasm at events celebrating the occasion, International Observe the Moon Night was born. Today, International Observe the Moon Night is now a worldwide celebration of lunar science and exploration, celestial observation, and the cultural and personal connections we have to [...]

209, 2019

STEAM Engines: We Dig Dirt

By |September 2nd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

What do you call a chicken who crosses the road, rolls around in the dirt, then comes back?* Alas, this particular joke went over the heads of every participant in this month’s STEAM Engines at Skokie Library, but it was the perfect entry into our discussion about dirt - or more specifically soil. Same thing, right? As it it turns out, there’s a difference, and if you ask a soil [...]

3008, 2019

Evaluating STEAM Experiences

By |August 30th, 2019|Categories: General, Informal Learning|

Earlier this month I participated in a forum about library makerspaces and how we evaluate engagement and measure success. Since my library’s equivalent of a makerspace is STEAM focused, I used my time at the forum to reflect on how I have been evaluating the BOOMbox and related STEAM programming for youth.  End of Shift Report used to collect data. When the BOOMbox opened in November of 2014, [...]

2808, 2019

Public Libraries Are Ideal Venues for Teen Science Cafés

By |August 28th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

By Michelle Hall and Michael Mayhew Co-directors, Teen Science Café Network A teen science café brings high school teens together in a social setting to have a lively conversation with a scientist on some interesting and timely topic. In a teen café program, teens organize all aspects of it with the help of an adult mentor, and hands-on learning activities allow teens to interact one-on-one with the presenter and reveal more [...]

2208, 2019

Thank you, NASA

By |August 22nd, 2019|Categories: General, NASA, Science, Technology, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

I want to begin today by apologizing for having disappeared for a while.  My disappearance wasn't by choice, but sharing my story does give me the opportunity to celebrate NASA, and everything it has accomplished over the last several decades. So, for any one who is curious, here's the story of my spring and summer... I was going about my day to day business, and enthusiastically planning my summer programs [...]

508, 2019

Exploring Space: Smart Spacecraft, Big Data, and Modeling Reality

By |August 5th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

By Claire Ratcliffe, Education Coordinator @ NCIL/SSI STAR Net recently launched a national traveling exhibition, Exploring Space: Smart Spacecraft, Big Data, and Modeling Reality. It will be hosted at four different libraries across the country over the course of the next year and showcases the evolving role of computing in space science and astronomy. The four host libraries include Westminster Public Library in Colorado, Brentwood Public Library in Tennessee, Algona Public [...]

3107, 2019

Exploring Insects

By |July 31st, 2019|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Science|

This summer, Skokie Public Library committed to providing quality STEAM programs for youth in elementary grades while in the hustle that is summer reading. Youth Services Librarian Gudrun Premier facilitated a Be the Scientist program for grades 3-5 earlier this month and focused on insects. Here’s what she did. Gudrun began the program in our youth program room with an introductory slide show about insects. She focused on how and [...]

2607, 2019

Challenges and Strategies for Engaging Underserved and Underrepresented Audiences in Informal STEM Learning: Lessons Learned from Project BUILD

By |July 26th, 2019|Categories: Community Engagement|

by Keliann LaConte, National Center for Interactive Learning, Space Science Institute and Jen Jocz, Education Development Center Through Project BUILD, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) volunteers and public library staff are working together to engage children in grades 2-5 and their families in age-appropriate, technology-rich STEM learning experiences that are based on the Engineering Design Process. Project BUILD focuses on reaching audiences traditionally underserved and underrepresented in STEM. The combination of [...]

507, 2019

STEAM Engines: Black Holes

By |July 5th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

One of my favorite things about kid science programming at the library is the journey of discovery. I was as excited as the next curious citizen when the photo of the black hole was released in April. I was eager to show it to my son, who is generally fascinated by all things space, and I was not disappointed. “But mom,” he asked me, “what IS it?” and I found [...]

207, 2019

Explore “A Universe of Stories” with New NASA Resources

By |July 2nd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

By Emma Marcucci, Space Telescope Science Institute Continue the exploration ignited by this summer’s reading theme "A Universe of Stories" with new resources and opportunities from NASA’s Universe of Learning and Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA. In this post, we will talk about three new resources: An opportunity to receive a travelling or permanent poster exhibit on the universe, A DIY Astrophoto Challenge, and Newly released thematic resource guides.   1. [...]

107, 2019

GO Oklahoma! A Citizen Science Challenge

By |July 1st, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

By Theresa Schwerin, Institute for Global Environment Strategies (IGES) The GO Oklahoma! citizen science challenge (June 15-Oct. 31, 2019) is part of the GLOBE Mission Mosquito campaign, co-led by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and NASA GSFC. Citizen scientists in the greater Oklahoma City/Norman, OK metropolitan area are collecting GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper data to support NASA research by partner scientists Dr. Mike Wimberly, University of Oklahoma, Norman, [...]

3006, 2019

BLOOMbox All Summer Long

By |June 30th, 2019|Categories: Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, STEM|

This summer the BOOMbox, our self-directed STEAM learning space, is looking at topics related to gardening, botany, and ecology and has been dubbed BLOOMbox for the duration of the rotation. We’ve focused on these topics previously and have found our community is really drawn to the hands-on learning associated with gardening alongside discussion topics related to ecology, sustainability, and conservation. We learned a lot from the first go around and [...]

2006, 2019

LINK Program Intern Comes to SSI: Part 2

By |June 20th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

Willa Kopp-DeVol, a Junior at Animas High School in Durango, Colorado, recently served a 3 week internship at the Space Science Institute (SSI) in which she worked with both the research and education departments. Her school’s Leading Internships for New Knowledge (LINK) Program takes students beyond the classroom walls in order to clarify personal, college and career goals while teaching invaluable professional skills and life lessons. Below is the second installment of [...]

306, 2019

Participate in Evaluation of NASA’s Summer 2019 AstroPhoto Challenge

By |June 3rd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

  By Colleen Manning, Director or Research, Goodman Research Group   Dear STAR Net Librarian, I’m writing to let you know about an opportunity to participate in an evaluation of NASA’s AstroPhoto Challenge—an exciting summer STEM learning experience using MicroObservatory telescopes, astro-image enhancement tools, and real NASA data. The evaluator for NASA’s Universe of Learning is seeking group leaders interested in facilitating a NASA’s Astrophoto Challenge workshop in June or July. [...]

2805, 2019

Be the Scientist: Tie-Dye

By |May 28th, 2019|Categories: Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Uncategorized|

One of my favorite STEAM programs is tie-dye. This can be presented as a family drop-in event, perhaps on the library’s front lawn, or as a grade specific program. For the last Be the Scientist, we featured tie-dye as a hands-on spring event for participants in grades 3-5. While the program is inherently entertaining, we focused on a few STEM concepts for a more enriching experience. Here’s what we did. [...]

2005, 2019

LINK Program Intern Comes to SSI

By |May 20th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

Willa Kopp-DeVol, a Junior at Animas High School in Durango, Colorado, recently served a 3 week internship at the Space Science Institute (SSI) in which she worked with both the research and education departments. Her school’s Leading Internships for New Knowledge (LINK) Program takes students beyond the classroom walls in order to clarify personal, college and career goals while teaching invaluable professional skills and life lessons. Over the next few weeks and [...]

2005, 2019

Summer Reading Champions

By |May 20th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

The Space Science Institute (SSI) is home to the STAR Library Network (STAR Net) and its NASA@ My Library program. The STAR Net team in partnership with the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) are working together to share science- and technology-related activities and resources to libraries across the nation as part of CSLP’s 2019 summer learning program called “The Universe of Stories.” To help inspire children to reach their full potential [...]

1505, 2019

Where Do Families Go for STEM

By |May 15th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

Libraries Reduce the Opportunity Gap By Linda Kekelis What do libraries have to do with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)? These days, plenty. You can find preschoolers and their caregivers engaging in hands-on science and math activities, girls and mothers tinkering with tools and technology, and families learning to code at summer lunch programs all at their local public library. These experiences spark new interests in kids, build confidence [...]

3004, 2019

STAR Net Participates in the STEM For All Video Showcase

By |April 30th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

The STAR Library Network (STAR Net) recently entered a video into the NSF STEM For All Video Showcase, which will take place from May 13th to May 20th.  STAR Net’s 3-minute video focuses on how the organization has prepared libraries for the Collaborative Summer Library Program's 2019 summer learning theme, “A Universe of Stories.” Every year, libraries across the country rally around a summer reading theme and offer diverse programs to the [...]

2904, 2019

STEAM Engines: A House for a Louse

By |April 29th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

We were at the tail end of what seemed to be an endless, capricious winter. One of those predictably unpredictable Illinois seasons where one day you wake up and the sun is shining, and the breeze is sweet, and the crocuses know better but just can’t help themselves. There’s something about that optimism - that hubris - that I appreciate, and I felt similar feelings as I saw a lone [...]

2804, 2019

3D Printing Boot Camp

By |April 28th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

Skokie Public Library has previously offered multiple day programs over school breaks to engage learners in a deeper dive of a specific content. Boot camp style programs tend to do well with higher tech topics like coding. This year during Spring Break, Ben, one of our Experiential Learning Specialists, designed a two day boot camp style program on 3D design and printing for kids in grades 3-5. The program was [...]

804, 2019

New GLOBE Observer Toolkit for Informal Educators

By |April 8th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

GLOBE Observer, an app-based citizen science project, recently released a toolkit for informal educators at libraries, museums, parks and outdoor education centers, after school programs, and more, which is available online at The toolkit contains activities and resources which can be integrated into programming at your institution. Each section includes tips for using the app and information about why it is important to make these observations. The resource library [...]

204, 2019

Free Books and Supplies Available for Your Library!

By |April 2nd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

by Stephanie Vierow-Fields STAR Net’s Summer of Space campaign promotes space science and astronomy and provides valuable resources that public libraries can use to build a summer learning program that their community will remember for years to come. From NASA’s 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 11 Moon landing to CSLP’s summer learning program, A Universe of Stories, STAR Net brings together a wide range of activities, resources, and webinars that enlighten as [...]

2603, 2019

Community Video Gaming

By |March 26th, 2019|Categories: Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Technology|

Video games continue to be a source of community based learning and entertainment for youth and teens at Skokie Public Library. We have embraced this and provide multiple channels for youth and teens to participate either individually or as a group. But we really value group gaming as it supports collaboration, communication, and community, which are key 21st century learning skills. Here are a few community based gaming opportunities our [...]

1103, 2019

STEAM Engines: Emmett Chappelle and big, messy Bioluminescence

By |March 11th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

  Skokie Public Library's February STEAM Engines club, featuring STEAM learning and hands-on activity for kindergarten through second graders, focused on super cool retired scientist Emmett Chappelle. Chappelle had an exciting and varied career, including working with NASA to support their flight initiatives. Perhaps most prominently, he was involved with the Viking 1, the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars! For the purposes of our program, however, we chose [...]

603, 2019

Teens Participate in a National Challenge at Public Libraries

By |March 6th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

by Stephanie Vierow-Fields STAR Net’s Summer of Space in partnership with the Collaborative Summer Learning Program’s A Universe of Stories, invites libraries to participate in a national STEM challenge designed for the hard to reach tween/teen age group. The Northwest Earth and Space Science Pipeline (at the Univ. of Washington, in Seattle) is the lead organization.   As part of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, the ANGLeS [...]

2502, 2019

The Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA Program: Science-based Inquiries Outside the Classroom

By |February 25th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

by Emma Marcucci and Holly Ryer, Space Telescope Science Institute Research shows that out-of-school-time programs play an important role in supporting learning experiences and shaping youth identity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Young learners (particularly girls) who participate in STEM activities outside of school are more likely to say they will pursue STEM subjects later in their education. In addition, there is strong evidence that inquiry-based approaches benefit [...]

2302, 2019

LED Light Up Cards

By |February 23rd, 2019|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Physics, Science, STEM|

This month we combined card-making with circuitry for our latest Be the Scientist program for grades 3-5. We facilitated this program near Valentine’s Day thinking it would help spark interest. Here’s what we did. We started the program by talking about circuitry, asking participants what they knew about how a circuit works and what its used for. In addition to talking about how a circuit works, we used a Snap [...]

402, 2019

Apollo Next Giant Leap Student Challenge Offers a Fun Way to Explore the Moon

By |February 4th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

by Stephanie Vierow-Fields, Education Coordinator at the Space Science Institute As we gear up for the Universe of Stories summer learning event and NASA’s Apollo 11 50th anniversary, NASA@ My Library and the Northwest Earth and Space Science Pipeline are collaborating to promote a unique engineering challenge from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, offering students the chance to land on the “Moon”.  Well, a map of the Moon [...]

1701, 2019

STAR Net + Infiniscope = Great Resources and Activities!!

By |January 17th, 2019|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, General, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

  Next Wednesday (January 23) two great resources will be coming together to help teachers and public librarians unite to create a wonderful summer experience for children all across the United States!  STAR_Net, a resource for librarians who provide STREAM programming, is uniting with Infiniscope, a resource used by teachers to teach science concepts, especially those related to space and astronomy.  This new alliance could really bring this summer's theme [...]

1601, 2019


By |January 16th, 2019|Categories: Arts, Chemistry, Elementary Aged, Engineering, General, Informal Learning, Math, Physics, Science, STEM, Technology|

One way we promote self-directed STEAM learning at Skokie Public Library is through our STEAM Kit collection. We have about 30 kits that cardholders can checkout for one week at a time. Here’s how we create, circulate, and promote this specialized collection.   Kit Topics and Contents Our STEAM kits are carefully curated by staff in the Learning Experiences department. Often, kits are inspired by previous BOOMbox rotation equipment. We [...]

1601, 2019

Register Your Library for STAR Net’s “Summer of Space”!

By |January 16th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

The Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP), the STAR Library Network (STAR Net) with its NASA@ My Library program, and NASA are working together on a virtual launch pad filled with numerous STEM resources that libraries can utilize for their celebration of space exploration as part the 2019 “A Universe of Stories” summer learning event. STAR Net’s "Summer of Space" website provides your library with valuable tools to help your summer learning program [...]

1001, 2019

Tinker Kids

By |January 10th, 2019|Categories: STEM, Technology, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

This summer I had my first foray into the camp format of programming. Summer camps are a big thing in our community. Kids will talk about what they've learned from one camp before heading off to another. I wanted our library to get in on this, but I was a little apprehensive of diving into the deep end. So I compromised (with myself) and did a smaller scale program. One [...]

901, 2019

Libraries and Citizen Science: Seeking Pilot Sites

By |January 9th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

Please complete application form by Jan 25, 2019 The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) is seeking 3-4 U.S. libraries that are willing to review and pilot test resources and activities related to NASA’s GLOBE Observer citizen science program. Citizen science – also called volunteer science – engages the public in science investigations.  NASA’s GLOBE Observer free mobile app enables citizen scientists of all ages to contribute to NASA science [...]

501, 2019

Infiniscope Activity for the Super Blood Wolf Moon Lunar Eclipse

By |January 5th, 2019|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, General|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Happy New Year everyone! For anyone interested in space, space exploration, astronomy, and NASA, this year has begun with a bang! Just after the new year began on the east coast, the New Horizons successfully passed within 2,200 miles of the Kuiper Belt object named Ultima Thule, collected data, including great pictures which have already solved some intense debates, sent the data back to earth, and is now headed onward [...]

3112, 2018

New Horizons will be Broadcasting It’s Fly-By of Ultima Thule on January 1, 2019

By |December 31st, 2018|Categories: astronomy, General, NASA, News, Science, Space Exloration, Uncategorized|Tags: , |

  Many people are aware that New Horizons will be taking pictures, and collecting data as it passes close by the Kuiper Belt object commonly known as Ultima Thule (2014 MU6) on January 1, 2019.  It will be passing closer to Ultima Thule than it has come to any other object since it launched from Earth on January 19, 2006.  It will come within 2,200 miles of the surface of [...]

2712, 2018

STEAM Engines

By |December 27th, 2018|Categories: Chemistry, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Science, STEM|

Youth Services Librarian Caitlin Savage took over STEAM programming for grades K-2 last spring at Skokie Public Library. Under her direction, the bi-monthly Science Club program became monthly and was re-branded as STEAM Engines. This program is becoming a destination for budding scientists and explorers, and serves a bridge to other STEAM opportunities at the library, including the BOOMbox. Here’s how it is designed and facilitated. STEAM Engines follows a [...]

2112, 2018

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 8 Mission to the Moon

By |December 21st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Join Us for this Live Webcast Event! BLOG UPDATE: Click here for a recording of the live webcast event. The tumultuous year of 1968 saw escalation of war, riots in the streets, and assassinations of leaders. During this time of upheaval back on Earth, NASA gave the world hope through its Apollo mission to the Moon. Apollo 8 was the first mission ever to take astronauts to a world beyond [...]

1212, 2018

Internet Librarian Conference!

By |December 12th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

In October, I traveled across half the country and attended the Internet Librarian conference in Monterrey, California. It was my manager’s idea, and I was thrilled for the opportunity. I was not anticipating learning something in every single session I attended. This conference was a learning experience for me - right down to the break time. Some days they had three hour long breaks throughout the conference time. It was [...]

2711, 2018

Exploring Music

By |November 27th, 2018|Categories: Informal Learning, Physics, STEM|

This fall our STEAM space, the BOOMbox, is exploring music. Every two weeks, we focused drop-in experiences on a different aspect of music, from physics to history to genres. We used a variety of tools and resources for hands-on learning, experimentation, and exploration, largely engaging learners in grades 2-7. Here are some of the focus areas and related activities we featured.   Sound The first month explored sound: what it [...]

2611, 2018

Merge Cubes!

By |November 26th, 2018|Categories: General, Technology|Tags: , , |

There's a lot of hubbub about AR and VR lately. Unfortunately, a lot of this technology is financially unreasonable for many educators. That is, until the Merge Cubes were invented. It was originally made from a discarded yoga mat - and kind of still seems like it. It looks like a cube of alien QR codes, and that is essentially what it is. These alien QRs can link to elaborate [...]

2511, 2018

Pumpkin STEMs!

By |November 25th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, General, Informal Geometry, Informal Learning, Physics, Science, Spacial Thinking, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , |

STEM programming and Halloween just sort of naturally go together. But I was looking for a slightly "less gross" way to connect the two. Building and pumpkins don't seem to normally go in the same sentence, but we tried and it and had a blast! For the engineering portion of the program, I decided to use a variation on the marshmallows and spaghetti project building idea. I provided candy pumpkins [...]

2511, 2018


By |November 25th, 2018|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Engineering, General, Informal Learning, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |

Who among us hasn't at some point just put out a bunch of materials and told the kids "have at it!"? We did that in our STREAM Center for a pre-Halloween program, and it was way more fun that we anticipated! There were a large number of the parents who stayed with their kids and created right along with them, even though their attendance wasn't strictly mandatory at the program. [...]

2311, 2018

A Visit With Master Artists and Teachers – Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander

By |November 23rd, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, General, Informal Geometry, Informal Learning, Informal Math Programming, Math, Math Activities, Middle School Aged, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

A local museum is hosting an exhibit entitled "Origami in the Garden" until March of 2019.  It's a fantastic series of metal sculptures based on origami designs scattered throughout the gardens of the museum.    As part of the exhibit's kick-off activities, Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander, master origamists, were invited to visit local schools and to teach workshops at the Botanic Garden.  I was fortunate enough to be able [...]

1911, 2018

Lessons Learned from Camp Cosmos

By |November 19th, 2018|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, Math Activities, Middle School Aged, Moon, NASA, Next Generation Science Standards, Physics, Science, Space Exloration, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

            How do you decide if an event is a success? Usually the number of people in attendance is a good indicator, and one that the state wants us to report. But what if you only have three people from your intended audience attend? Can you still call that a successful event? To celebrate the end of World Space Week in October, we held Camp Cosmos [...]

1911, 2018

Backyard Wilderness BioBlitz!

By |November 19th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Photography, Pre-School, Science, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |

This summer in the middle of Summer Reading Club, we acquired a grant-related exhibit for the library. Backyard Wilderness is a large-format film by HHMI studios, created primarily for the museum audience. An exhibit, designed also primarily for museums, was created to go along with it, and through the grant program, was distributed to libraries as well. When the exhibit arrived, it was packed in a couple of boxes and [...]

611, 2018

STAR Net Resources

By |November 6th, 2018|Categories: Informal Learning, NASA, STEM, Tutorials|

Calling All STEM Superstars (and Newbies, too!) Follow This Guide to Free Resources from the STAR Library Network (STAR Net) Participants in the 2015 Public Libraries & STEM conference provided input on library strengths and opportunities in STEM in this word cloud.       Are you planning to bring science, technology, and fun into your programs and services in summer 2019? Help us build on the successes (and challenges) of the [...]

2610, 2018

Making Coding Fun and Easy

By |October 26th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Technology, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This year I started adding something new to some of my programs - coding.  It has been a whole new adventure for me.  When I was in school, computers in education were a new concept.  There was a room with several desktop computers with large towers connected to them.  Those computers required 6 inch floppy disks, were programmed with DOS, and sat there quietly in the dark most of the [...]

2610, 2018

Science of Sound

By |October 26th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, Physics, Science|

This fall our informal learning space, the BOOMbox, is exploring all things music. The rotation is 16 weeks long and we’re focusing on a different concept related to music about every two weeks. This month’s STEAM program for youth grades 3-5 aligned with the rotation and we explored the physics of sound in a hands on way by making membranophones, courtesy of the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Here’s what we [...]

110, 2018


By |October 1st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

You don't have to look very far to find the next trend in technology education. There are a lot of choices out there, and a lot of letters have been thrown around lately, but what do they mean? Use this guide when making your next techno-decision. VR Virtual Reality Virtual reality is an all-encompassing experience. VR creates a world of its own. This can be realistic, or surreal. The important [...]

3009, 2018

STEM Learning in the Library

By |September 30th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

This month I had the opportunity to participate in the Working Group on Partnerships for Middle School and STEM Learning with the Urban Libraries Council. Professional Development Coordinator Keliann LaConte and Education Coordinator Brooks Mitchell, both team members for the STAR_Net program, were also in attendance where we discussed our views of STEM learning in libraries and how we can develop intentional, sustainable, and strategic partnerships within communities. Here are [...]

2609, 2018

Calling All STAR net Libraries: Help NASA Make a Better World Land Map!

By |September 26th, 2018|Categories: environmental education, General, NASA, Photography, Spacial Thinking, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

NASA needs your help photographing your local landscape through the new Land Cover tool in GLOBE Observer (GO). Why? One reason is to fill in details of the landscape that are too small for global land-mapping satellites to see. Land cover is critical to many different processes on Earth and contributes to a community’s vulnerability to disasters like fire, floods or landslides. Read more at GO Land Cover kicked [...]

1709, 2018

Making and Information Literacy

By |September 17th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest post by Heather Moorefield-Lang Information Literacy Information Literacy, as defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries (2000), is the ability to know when information is needed as well as locate, evaluate, and use that information effectively. Information literacy typically has six steps (ACRL, 2000). Determine the type of information needed Accessing the needed information Evaluating found information critically Integrating new knowledge Use information effectively for the given [...]

1009, 2018

Libraries to Shine During Lights On Afterschool 2018

By |September 10th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest post by Afterschool Alliance staff All across America, afterschool programs love their libraries! According to a 2017 study of more than 350 afterschool programs, nearly three-quarters reported that they were working with their local public library in diverse ways, from literacy initiatives to book lending programs and STEM activities. Those informal learning relationships deserve to be featured, and that’s why “Library Partnerships” is a theme of this year’s Lights On Afterschool—the only nationwide [...]

2808, 2018

Nature Play

By |August 28th, 2018|Categories: Arts, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Pre-School, Science, STEM|

Under the direction of Sue Teller, Children’s Librarian/Staff Artist, Skokie Public Library has been bringing informal, nature-based STEAM learning to our youngest patrons via Nature Play. This is a weekly program intended for children ages 3-6 who participate with an adult caregiver. Sue was inspired by a program at one of the annual conferences hosted by the Chicago Botanic Garden and wanted to bring nature into the lives of young [...]

2408, 2018

It’s the end of the iWorld as we know it

By |August 24th, 2018|Categories: Arts, Informal Learning, Pre-School, Technology, Uncategorized|

If you own some older Apple tablets, you might have noticed a new trend when trying to download apps. At first, I thought it was really cool that I didn't have to update my iPads every other week (take that, Apple!), and I didn't realize what was to come. As I've started to explore my role as Technology Librarian, I finally have time to go through my library programming bucket [...]

408, 2018

Music, Music, Let’s Make Some Music!

By |August 4th, 2018|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

  To start off our Summer, which has the theme "Libraries Rock" this year, I decided to have a "make your own music" program.  I enjoy programs where participants learn to create using items they will most likely find around their own homes.  For this program, I decided that we would make our own kazoos and then play group tunes with some palm pipes. My first plan had included making Pan's Pipes, [...]

108, 2018

A Whale of an Adventure!

By |August 1st, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Pre-School, Science, STEM|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Migration: noun. seasonal movement of animals from one region to another. "this butterfly's annual migration across North America" We recently addressed the topic of migration in a program, and it was a lot of fun. First, I asked the kids what it means to “migrate.” They came up with a very similar answer to the definition above. I asked what kinds of things migrate; they told me fish, birds, butterflies, bugs, “things [...]

3107, 2018

Louisville Public Library Seeks New Director of Library and Museum Services

By |July 31st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

The Louisville Public Library has been a great friend to the STAR Net Project since it’s inception almost 10 years ago. They’re now looking for a new Director to carry on the amazing legacy of Beth Barrett, and requested we share this announcement with STAR Net libraries, as they’re the type of innovative individuals Louisville is looking for! Minimum Qualifications Completion of a Master’s degree program at an American Library [...]

3007, 2018

Seeing Stars!

By |July 30th, 2018|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Moon, Science, Space Exloration, STEM|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Indoor astronomy is a great way to light up the night! We recently did that, both figuratively and literally. I have done a fairly large number of astronomy programs in the past 5 or 6 years, both with and without the library's 8" Dobsonian telescope; both indoors and out. I want these programs to be both about learning and fun... I want to encourage kids and their adults to spend [...]

3007, 2018

Exploring Chemical Engineering

By |July 30th, 2018|Categories: Chemistry, Engineering, Informal Learning, Science|

This summer our informal learning space, the BOOMbox, is exploring all things engineering. The rotation is 16 weeks long and we’re focusing on a different field of engineering every two weeks. Last month we shared information about a program related to civil engineering and this month, we’re sharing highlights from our two weeks of exploring chemical engineering. Please note these activities were intended to provide a foundation of chemistry knowledge. [...]

1607, 2018

Sharing Bright Ideas for Family Engagement in STEM through the Living Ideabook

By |July 16th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest post by Margaret Caspe, PhD - Director of research and professional learning at Global Family Research Project How can LED lights, conductive copper tape, and coin batteries bring brightness to families in Homer, Alaska during the darkest winter months? Through a STEM-focused family program at the Homer Public Library of course! Librarians in Homer recently created a series of family workshops highlighting circuit-building skills – one of which focused on making light-up [...]

1407, 2018

Tips from Tassie

By |July 14th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, Technology, Uncategorized|

Credit: NASA   South of mainland Australia lies its island state, Tasmania. (Australians shorten the name to Tassie, which rhymes with "snazzy.") Roughly half of this island is protected; its wilderness is listed -- alongside the Taj Mahal and the ancient pyramids of Egypt -- as  World Heritage property. Amidst this wild grandeur, 50 sites deliver library services to the island's 524,700 inhabitants.   View through eucalyptus [...]

907, 2018

Take a Hike! (At the Library?)

By |July 9th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Pre-School, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

  Earlier this year, in the spring, Kenton County Public Library, Kenton County Parks and Recreation, the City of Erlanger, Banklick Watershed Council, the Kenton County Conservation District, and Sanitation District No. 1 all partnered to hold the first ever library hike. Within the city limits of Erlanger, where my library branch is located, is Doe Run Lake which is a Kenton County park. The City, the Parks, and the Library have [...]

707, 2018

ISTE Newbie

By |July 7th, 2018|Categories: General, Informal Learning, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Since this is my first blog post, I should introduce myself. My name is Christina, and I work in a public library in a Chicago suburb in Illinois. I have always worked with kids, but have changed titles a few times. I am currently working in the newly-created Youth Technology Librarian position. Until recently, I was the Middle School Librarian whose interest in technology led me to spearhead most of [...]

307, 2018

Celebrating Rockets’ Red Glare!

By |July 3rd, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, Physics, Science, STEM|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On Monday, we celebrated America's birthday with some STEM activities! As always, we started with some reading, and I intentionally chose books that included images of fireworks. I also included a number of non-fiction Independence Day titles in my book display, along with this title: We started by reading A is for America, by Devin Scilian, then read Happy Birthday, America, by Mary Pope Osborne.  In keeping with the "rockets' red [...]

2606, 2018

Animals in the Park!

By |June 26th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Pre-School, STEM|Tags: , , , , |

Summer Reading programs in the park have begun again for the year. So how to inform and entertain a variety of ages, in an outdoor setting? Animals! The theme for the second week was animals, and the first of the Tuesday/Thursday programs featured a live animal petting zoo. Well over 250 people showed up for that! We had two baby goats, two young sheep, a little pot-bellied pig, and a [...]

1906, 2018

Light and Color and Uncooperative Weather

By |June 19th, 2018|Categories: Arts, General, Science, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The best-laid plans often go awry...  so how to program on the fly for a large group when that happens? My Monday Mayhem program is attended by a lot of school-age kids, including those who attend two separate day care summer camps. Planning for 80 takes some work and means that it is difficult to change activities without some advance thought and materials-gathering. As such, I learned a valuable lesson [...]

1006, 2018

Exploring Civil Engineering

By |June 10th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, STEM|

This summer our STEAM space, the BOOMbox, is exploring engineering. We’re focusing on a different field of engineering every two weeks to help kids understand the breadth and overlap of this STEAM topic. While the BOOMbox offers drop-in experiences, our Be the Scientist program series for grades 3-5 provided a more structured exploration of civil engineering, specifically looking at bike paths in Skokie. Here’s what we did. We began with [...]

2105, 2018

Science Education Resources Survey

By |May 21st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

A group of museums is conducting research on informal science institutions and escape rooms experiences. An escape room is an increasingly popular physical adventure game in which players are “locked” in a room and as a team must solve a series of puzzles to “escape” the room. The purpose of this survey is to the gauge the level of interest among the informal science education community in pop-up escape room [...]

2105, 2018

Host a Community Screening of NOVA’s “Decoding the Weather Machine”

By |May 21st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Are you interested in starting a conversation about climate change in your community? On April 18th, NOVA aired its newest climate change documentary, Decoding the Weather Machine. This two hour special takes a deep dive into our climate machine to explain why scientists agree that our climate is changing, how climate change will impact our daily lives, and how we can be resilient—and even thrive—in the face of this enormous [...]

705, 2018

Libraries and Engineers: Who Knew It Could Be So Much Fun?

By |May 7th, 2018|Categories: Engineering|

By Brooks Mitchell, Education Coordinator The best and the brightest of the library world came together with the best and the brightest of the civil engineering world in Denver, Colorado for the Project BUILD Workshop this April. I had the privilege of helping organize this event and, as is usual when working with librarians, feel that I learned just as many lessons as the workshop attendees! Professional stereotypes were shattered, [...]

405, 2018

May the Fourth be With You: Star Wars Day at the Library

By |May 4th, 2018|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Spacial Thinking, STEM, Technology, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It's Star Wars Day! I know that it's giving away my age, but I remember when the very first Star Wars movie came out.  I watched it from a swing-set in the small, fenced-in playground at the foot of the giant screen of the drive-in movie theater.  The playground was surrounded by the same heavy gray metal boxes that were hung on the car doors of theater-goers, and served as [...]

405, 2018

Citizen Science at the Library: Science Action Club

By |May 4th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Science, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Recently, I've had the opportunity to take part in a great program sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences.  It's called the Science Action Club.  There are actually three different modules, or curricula, available - Bug Safari, Bird Scouts, and Cloud Quest.  I was able to receive the training for Bug Safari close to home.  At that training I learned that the last Bird Scouts training was being held the [...]

305, 2018

Dissecting Owl Pellets

By |May 3rd, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

In our most recent family science program, we featured owl pellet dissection. This allowed for hands on science exploration for youth in grades K-5 with a grownup using tools and resources to mimic scientists in the field. Here’s what we did. Program supplies included hand wipes, tweezers, pencils and plastic jars with lids. We ordered barn owl pellets from a science supplies distributor via Amazon. We learned that [...]

1904, 2018

Sitting on Cloud Nine with NASA GLOBE Observer

By |April 19th, 2018|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, NASA, Uncategorized|

This Earth Day, I hope you will be sitting on cloud nine* with these last-minute tips and ideas for bringing NASA GLOBE Observer Clouds and citizen science into your library.  Best of all these are evergreen - not just for April 22! TIPS AND TRICKS Brush up on Cloud Observing with these simple tips and tricks from NASA’s GLOBE Clouds Team lead, Marilé Colón Robles, to sharpen your cloud [...]

1204, 2018


By |April 12th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Science|

With the weather finally warming up, we decided to focus our latest STEM program on something fun and practical: vermicomposting! This was an hour long program for 16 kids in grades 3-5 with all supplies provided by the library. Here’s what we did. In the days before the program, we prepped all the supplies. Each participant received a shoebox sized plastic bin altered for vermicomposting. This required staff to rinse [...]

1104, 2018

Explore Your Backyard Wilderness Library Exhibits

By |April 11th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Bring the outdoors into your library! In conjunction with the release of the new 3D IMAX film Backyard Wilderness, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios is offering libraries across the country the opportunity to host a beautiful backyard wilderness exhibit and outreach campaign designed to get kids excited about exploring the outdoors and observing the ecosystems they live in. Click here to find out more and join them for a pre-application webinar on April 24, 2018.

1104, 2018

Discover Exoplanets Exhibition Announcement

By |April 11th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

The STAR Net Program at the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning, in partnership with NASA’s Universe of Learning, is proud to announce the following library and museum partner host sites for the Discover Exoplanets exhibition, starting its tour this August: Pueblo City County Public Library and Rawlings News Museum (Pueblo, CO) – Pilot Sites Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and Children’s Library Discovery Center (Queens, NY) [...]

1104, 2018

Girls Steam Ahead with NASA – Library/Organization Administrator Survey

By |April 11th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

by Emma Marcucci, Girls STEAM Ahead With NASA Hello NASA@Library community! Over the past year you may have seen information in the Star Net blog or attended a webinar related to resources for “Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA” (GSAWN). We’re contacting organizers from libraries who may have held GSAWN youth events in 2017 to ask you to complete this brief but important survey. We’d like to hear from you even [...]

504, 2018

Look Up at the Sky and Celebrate Earth Day – and Beyond – with NASA!

By |April 5th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest post by Theresa Schwerin, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies/GLOBE Observer Team [photo above] Children estimate cloud cover through this hands-on, arts activity using construction paper: Estimating Cloud Cover: A Simulation (Credit: The GLOBE Program).  The March STAR Net Webinar series featured NASA resources for library staff to use in their Earth Day programming this spring. If you missed the live event, or would like a refresher, check out the recording [...]

504, 2018

Rain, rain, and more rain. What will the worms do?

By |April 5th, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Next Generation Science Standards, Science, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

  There's no way that anyone in my area hasn't noticed all of the rain we've had lately, but it wasn't until I was returning home from work one night to discover the steps to and my porch covered in a carpet of wriggling, desperate, earthworms seeking refuge from the water, that I realized just how much rain my community has received in the last few weeks.  I have often [...]

504, 2018

What Can You do With a Block of Ice?

By |April 5th, 2018|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Pre-School, Science, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

      It's beginning to show signs of spring.  Trees are budding.  Insects are beginning fly and buzz about.  I see turtles sunning at the edge of the lake.  But before that -- It was cold.  Really, really cold, for my part of the world.  In a part of the country where freezes usually last a day or two, we had weeks without the temperature getting above the freezing [...]

404, 2018

Celebrate Citizen Science Day… in your Library!

By |April 4th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest Post by Darlene Cavalier (SciStarter) Citizen Science Day (April 14), presented by SciStarter and the Citizen Science Association, is an annual event to celebrate volunteers, practitioners, and projects, and to introduce more people to opportunities to get involved in local or global projects in need of their help. [youtube id="yWZ6wybgHl4" width="800" height="450" autoplay="no" api_params="" class=""]   Libraries across the country can join in the celebration! We’ve provided some examples, descriptions, [...]

404, 2018

What is Citizen Science?

By |April 4th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest Post by Darlene Cavalier (SciStarter) [photo above] People swabbing microbes from shoes and cellphones at a Philadelphia Phillies game. Samples were sent to the International Space Station for growth rate comparisons. See Space Microbes for more information on this “out of this world” citizen science project. Citizen science enables people from all walks of life to participate in formal and informal scientific research. Millions of people help scientists monitor [...]

2103, 2018

Seeing is Believing!

By |March 21st, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, STEM|

Eyes are fascinating things, and the variety of types of eyes and the ways they see makes for interesting programming. I recently created a new school outreach program called Seeing is Believing, which addresses some of the basics of types of eyes and how they see. This 50-minute outreach visit is different from ordinary library programs, addresses some interesting STEM concepts, and is challenging and fun for the students! I [...]

203, 2018

Have Fun With an Ancient Instrument – a Mouth Bow

By |March 2nd, 2018|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The first time I encountered a mouth bow was at Girl Scout camp many (I'm not about to tell you how many) years ago.  It was a camporee weekend, packed full of activities and workshops for us t'weens and teens.  One of the workshops was musical instruments from things we could find in the forest, mostly.  The most popular of the instruments we learned to make was the mouth bow.  By [...]

103, 2018

Collecting Specimens

By |March 1st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Last month we shared a program for grades 3-5 at Skokie Public Library inspired by a visit to the Field Museum in Chicago about visualizing animals. This month we extended our inspiration and with the same grade range, focused on learning about animal specimens. Here’s what we did. We provided a brief slide presentation like the previous program to provide a foundation of knowledge before moving on to the hands [...]

802, 2018

STREAM of Learning at Kenton County Public Library

By |February 8th, 2018|Categories: Arts, Engineering, Math, News, Science, STEM, Technology|

Kenton County (KY) Public Library's Erlanger Branch has opened their new STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, Math) of Learning Center! It is the first public maker space in the Northern Kentucky area. After an extensive renovation/addition to the building, the new space and equipment are now available for public use and programming. With equipment as diverse as button makers and virtual reality equipment, there is a little something for [...]

502, 2018

Finding Reliable Answers to Tough Questions

By |February 5th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest post by Jessica Stoller-Conrad Curious kids can come up with some pretty tough science questions. “How many moons does Mars have?” “How does a hurricane form?” “What is the greenhouse effect?” It’s great that these young scientists want to learn more about our planet and our place in the universe! But what happens when parents, teachers, and librarians don’t know the answers? As grownups, we know that we can [...]

202, 2018

Visualizing Animals

By |February 2nd, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

After a fall visit to the Field Museum, my colleague and I were inspired to share knowledge from the museum's extensive Specimens exhibit. We were particularly struck by the information about the Tully Monster, a prehistoric water animal whose fossils are abundantly found in Illinois, not too far from Skokie Public Library. We decided to focus on two main concepts for a Be the Scientist Program for grades 3-5: what [...]

102, 2018

Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA

By |February 1st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest post by Universe of Learning As we approach Women's History Month in March, we look to our partners to help inspire their communities, and future generations, to discover and explore the universe for themselves.  Join us in Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA to celebrate the women in STEM and NASA Astrophysics. Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA is an initiative within NASA's Universe of Learning, an informal STEM learning and [...]

1401, 2018

Baking Chemistry Boot Camp

By |January 14th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

As we’ve posted before, school breaks tend to include multi-day programs for grades 3-5. We previously challenged participants to choreograph a robot dance party and extract their own DNA. This past winter break featured a two day program about the science of baking. Each day covered science concepts related to the recipes we tested. And the best part: participants ate their experiment products! We should note that we have approval [...]

501, 2018

Super Moon, Blue Moon, Red Moon = What a Night to Watch the Moon!

By |January 5th, 2018|Categories: astronomy|Tags: , , , , , |

This will be the month to keep an eye on the moon.  The largest full moon of 2018 occurred on January 1, and the second, and last super moon of this year will occur on January 31.  Since it will also be the second full moon in a calendar month, it will be a blue moon, as well.  As if that weren't enough to get folks out to take a [...]

201, 2018

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

By |January 2nd, 2018|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Middle School Aged, Pre-School, Science|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This is the time of the year when children in most every part of the country look forward to awakening to a fluffy white blanket of snow in which to play, to sled, to scoop into a bowl for snowcream, and most importantly, to get them out of a day at school.  In my part of the country these days, snow is fairly rare, and pretty much everything comes to [...]

201, 2018

Welcome to 2018!

By |January 2nd, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

2017 Solar Eclipse Thanks for a memorable 2017 and Happy New Year. The STAR Library Network (STAR Net) had a fantastic year in 2017 anchored by the solar eclipse event in August. With support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, NASA, and NSF, SSI’s National Center for Interactive Learning distributed 2.1 million safe viewing glasses to 7,000 library locations including public library branches, bookmobiles, tribal libraries, library consortia, and [...]

201, 2018

Libraries Rock

By |January 2nd, 2018|Categories: STEM, Uncategorized|

Guest post by Erin Wood, Space enthusiast and educator So, you’ve probably heard by now that the theme for this upcoming summer reading program is “Libraries Rock,” and at this point, you’re wondering how you can incorporate sound into your space-themed STEM program this summer. Here is some food for thought, sound ideas, and most importantly, links, to help you develop the best sound-infused space program ever (or at least in [...]

2812, 2017

Paper Spheres: Experimentation with Decoration

By |December 28th, 2017|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Spacial Thinking|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Leading up to the holidays, people are often busy buying gifts and decorating their homes.  So, this year, I decided to offer different decorative crafts each week in December.  One of the most popular was the paper spheres.  The craft is simple to do, and only requires strips of paper, a hole punch, and brads (or bent paper clips) to complete.  Being simple in its execution allows for crafters to [...]

2812, 2017

Libraries Step Up as Partners in Annual Celebration of Afterschool Programs!

By |December 28th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

This year, STAR Net partnered with the Afterschool Alliance to make library-afterschool partnerships a theme for Lights On Afterschool 2017, a nationwide event drawing attention to afterschool programs and their partners, and showing communities why it is important to keep their Lights On. And with nearly 150 registered events featuring a library-afterschool partnership, the voices of libraries were heard nationwide! This year we saw libraries stepping up to show how [...]

2712, 2017

THE FARTHEST: Voyager in Space – Available FREE to Libraries!

By |December 27th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

Following a successful nationwide campaign of free public screenings arranged through the NASA Museum Alliance, and two national public television broadcasts, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios is offering DVDs of “The Farthest” to libraries around the country. This award-winning film about NASA's Voyager missions has been described as “powerful, poetic and cinematic” (Screen Scene), “a stirring salute to human ingenuity” (The Los Angeles Times), and a “dazzling documentary” (The New York [...]

1812, 2017

When the Sun Goes Dark Featured in the Best of the Year Science Books for Children and Students

By |December 18th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Press has proudly announced that its children’s book When the Sun Goes Dark by Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz has been selected as one of the Outstanding Science Trade Books for 2017 by a review panel of teachers and librarians appointed by the Children’s Books Council and NSTA.  Since 1973, an expert panel has chosen the best science books for children and students each [...]

612, 2017

Coding at the Library

By |December 6th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

As part of our commitment to digital literacy, Skokie Public Library began offering a drop-in, one-hour coding program twice a month for kids in grades 3-5. The program is intended to expose kids to coding concepts and resources readily available in the library, and to help them create a community of practice where, regardless of skill level, kids are able to help and be helped by peers. We have two [...]

512, 2017

Optimizing Layering for Program Success

By |December 5th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

Guest blog by David Janning and Joanna Ritchie (Chula Vista Library, a NASA@ My Library Partner) Street fair outreach event with both a STEAM activity booth and a promotional materials booth Many events you host already include the concept of layering, which typically involves setting up multiple activity stations and staggering main events throughout the length of a program. Layering also enables you to share information and experiences in multiple formats, [...]

2911, 2017

Money Fun

By |November 29th, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Informal Math Programming, Middle School Aged|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

        This month there is an exhibit in the adult collection about money and managing finances.  I've decided to focus my children's programming around money, and money fun, while the exhibit is on display.  It'll be a good opportunity to educate kids about being responsible with their money in a fun way, while the adults have the opportunity to learn about the same thing, through a more mature, if [...]

2811, 2017

Planet Hoppers

By |November 28th, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, Math, Space Exloration, Spacial Thinking, STEM|

When we first learned we’d be hosting the Explore Space exhibit from STAR_Net at our library this fall, we spent quite a bit of time browsing through program ideas and how-tos as we started to formulate our program schedule. Each month at our library, we offer an elementary-age STEAM program called Be the Scientist--and we knew we wanted the fall 2017 programs to tie into the exhibit and space in [...]

1511, 2017

Museum Alliance Professional Development Telecon

By |November 15th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

To participate in this telecon, your library may use the call-in information below. Call-in: [restrict]1-888-323-4924[/restrict] Passcode: [restrict]8165555[/restrict] Note: If you're not seeing the call-in info above, you'll need to login to STAR Net or register as a new member. Date:  November 21, 2017, Tuesday Time:  12 Noon PT (3pm ET) Topic: Choosing an InSight Landing Site Overview: Dr. Matt Golombek will go through the process of selecting the landing site for the InSight [...]

3110, 2017

The Science of Watersheds and Watershed Moments

By |October 31st, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Presentations, Science, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would be available and willing to help with a program for the local Boys & Girls Club. The friend who asked is a fellow Environmental Educator, and the Parks and Recreation Manager for the city of Covington, KY. She had been contacted by an employee of the Boys and Girls Club about providing STEM programs specifically related to pollution and trash [...]

2710, 2017

Building an ISS Model

By |October 27th, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, NASA, Science, Space Exloration, STEM|

Our library is hosting the Explore Space: A Cosmic Journey exhibit* for the next two months, and as part of this special exhibit we have lined up several space-themed STEAM programs for youth in grades K-5. One of our first programs took place before the exhibit’s opening: a challenge-based family program where the goal was to build a model of the International Space Station using cardboard boxes and other on-hand [...]

2110, 2017

NCIL Seeking Library and Museum Partner Sites to Host Interactive Traveling Exhibition Discover Exoplanets

By |October 21st, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

The National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) at the Space Science Institute (SSI) is seeking eight library and museum partner sites to host the inaugural national tour of the interactive traveling exhibition Discover Exoplanets: the Search for Alien Earths.  Public libraries and small museum partners in rural areas and those serving rural populations and underrepresented groups are especially invited to apply. This program is slightly different from prior STAR Net  programs and SSI museum exhibition [...]

610, 2017

New Report Shows Strong Partnerships Between Libraries and Afterschool Programs

By |October 6th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

A Guest Post by Melissa Ballard (Afterschool Alliance) The Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with STAR Net, has a new report showing how afterschool programs and libraries are working together to support youth and families in their communities. In early 2017, we surveyed 365 afterschool programs to learn if and how they are working with their local public libraries, and what challenges they face. What did we find? Nearly three-quarters of afterschool [...]

2209, 2017

Science Kits for STREAM Educators

By |September 22nd, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Informal Math Programming, Math Activities, Middle School Aged, Science, STEM|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

I have recently discovered a great not-so-new resource for teachers and librarians - Biology in a Box! This program, now in it's 25th year, was created by University of Tennessee/Knoxville professor Dr. Susan Riechert to help science teachers in the Knox County, Tennessee, schools who were lacking a strong science background, or adequate resources to provide strong STEM programs in their schools.  Each of the soon to be 13 thematic boxes is [...]

809, 2017

STEAM Benchmarks

By |September 8th, 2017|Categories: Chemistry, Elementary Aged, Engineering, General, Informal Learning, Pre-School, Science|

We know that hands-on or experiential learning is great for patrons of all ages, and that it’s particularly powerful in STEAM learning opportunities. Skokie Public Library has developed STEAM programming benchmarks for our youth patrons, from pre-kindergarten through grade 5, that ensure we have regular STEAM offerings on a variety of topics. We’ve found that these benchmarks are a great way for us to ensure we’re offering a variety of [...]

3008, 2017

Museum Alliance Professional Development Telecon

By |August 30th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

Topic:   Universe of Learning - Beyond the Solar System: Cosmic Disks Date:  September 7, 2017, Thursday Time:  12:30pm PT (3:30pm ET) Leader: Jeffrey Nee Overview: On September 15, 2017, the Cassini spacecraft will undergo a controlled descent into Saturn’s atmosphere, thus ending nearly 20 years of dedicated observations of the Saturnian system. Since the time of Galileo, Saturn’s rings have been a source of wonder and beauty. Astronomers now know [...]

2308, 2017

Sharpie Tie-Dye

By |August 23rd, 2017|Categories: Arts, Chemistry, Elementary Aged, Middle School Aged|Tags: |

As summer comes to an end and many of our patrons are busy on vacation or getting ready to go back to school, we were eager to offer quick access to STEAM opportunities. One of our favorites is Sharpie Tie-Dye; it’s a low-cost experiment that takes just a few minutes but has a big impact in helping participants to gain scientific knowledge. Here’s what we did. We first offered Sharpie [...]

1608, 2017

What is an Eclipse, Anyway? Create an Eclipse to Prepare for the Eclipse

By |August 16th, 2017|Categories: Middle School Aged, Moon, NASA, Science, Space Exloration, Tutorials, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Like most everyone in the country, I'm getting ready for the eclipse.  The local science museum, about a mile away from my branch, will be hosting a viewing on the lawn on the day of the eclipse.  But me?... I'll be driving wherever I have to go to see totality.  I have my glasses (the proper, safe ones), I have my guide books to the best places to go to [...]

708, 2017

Astronomy… In the Park… During the Day

By |August 7th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

For the last week of our Depot Days programs in the park, I wanted to do some astronomy related things. This gave me an excellent opportunity to distribute Moore Foundation eclipse glasses to those in attendance, with instructions for proper use. But these programs took place at 10:30 am, outside. So, how to address the eclipse and other astronomy topics with a large group of elementary-age and younger kids, with [...]

2407, 2017

Watercraft Design

By |July 24th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

Challenge-based programming is well received by multiple age groups at Skokie Public Library. These programs support 21st century learning skills like creative thinking, problem solving, and collaboration, all skills we’re eager to promote in activities for youth of a variety of ages. In various programs, we have facilitated watercraft design challenges where patrons are presented with a prompt, use limited materials to design and build their watercrafts, and then test [...]

1507, 2017

The Dirt on Soil

By |July 15th, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Pre-School, Science, STEM, Uncategorized, Vocabulary|Tags: , , , , , , , |

This week at the Depot Park, we braved threatening thunderstorms, rain, and high humidity to learn the dirt on soils! Using both fiction and non-fictions books, we introduced the topics of soil, dirt, and mud before studying different types of soil, modeling the concept of percolation, making model soil horizons, and mud painting. Over the two days of the program, we introduced the theme with the books Mud Puddle, by Robert [...]

1007, 2017

Do You Have Your Solar Eclipse Glasses? Great – Now Try Them Out!

By |July 10th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

Whether you received eclipse glasses through Space Science Institute (thanks to the generosity and support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Google, NASA, and Research Corporation) or purchased them yourself, now is the time to get outside and try them out! You will feel much more confident in answering the "are you sure these glasses work?" question with a resounding "YES!" when you have already viewed the Sun with them. While viewing the Sun, be [...]

707, 2017

Have a Cow, Man!

By |July 7th, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Pre-School, Presentations, Science, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |

Yesterday, in spite of questionable weather, delays because of a traffic accident, a few minor technology glitches, and high humidity; Kenton County Public Library and the City of Erlanger engaged nearly 200 people in one of our most unique and educational outdoor programs so far this summer! The Southland Dairy Farmers have an educational program-on-wheels called the Mobile Dairy Classroom, and it will come to your school or event (within their service area, [...]

307, 2017

ALA 2017: Wrap Up and Resources

By |July 3rd, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

STAR_Net was in full force at the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference (June 22-27), promoting #STEMinLib and #Eclipse2017, presenting conference sessions on STEM partnerships and daytime astronomy, and joining NASA for Hyperwall talks. (What is a Hyperwall, you ask? More on that later!) Did you attend one of our presentations or stop by the booth? If so, leave a comment and let us know what you thought. If you [...]

3006, 2017

Stargazer Nights at Skokie Public Library

By |June 30th, 2017|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Middle School Aged, Pre-School, Science, Space Exloration|

Here at Skokie Public Library, one of our favorite seasonal recurring events is our Stargazer Night program. While we first started these all-ages programs in the spring of 2015 in conjunction with an exploration of microcosms and macrocosms in our BOOMbox, we’ve continued offering 5 or 6 of these programs each year. Here’s what we do. Families take a closer look at Jupiter and its moons during Stargazer Nights. [...]

2806, 2017

Video: How Wolves Change Rivers

By |June 28th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

Earth is an interacting system of Air, Water, Ice, Rock, and Life. These five things link together to make our planet hum. They’re a team. Scientists call them systems or spheres. Each system plays an important role, and they all depend on each other. The video below shows what happened to the ecosystem structure in Yellowstone National Park after the introduction of wolves in 1995. [youtube id="ysa5OBhXz-Q" width="800" height="450" autoplay="no" [...]

2706, 2017

Transportation at the Depot

By |June 27th, 2017|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Engineering, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Pre-School, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |

Taking the STEAM concept in a slightly different direction, last week we hosted a program at the Depot Park all about transportation. This is always a popular theme, and since we were meeting at the Depot (as in train!) Park, it seemed like a natural fit. The Erlanger Depot Museum is one of the last remaining buildings of its kind in the United States. The museum building itself is an historic [...]

2406, 2017

Join the Rage! DIY Fidget Spinners

By |June 24th, 2017|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Engineering, General, Informal Geometry, Informal Learning, Informal Math Programming, Middle School Aged, Physics, Spacial Thinking, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

      I came across an interesting new type of toy online a few months ago - fidget spinners.  They're advertised as good for nail chewers, autistic people, children and adults with OCD, ADHD, and a variety of other conditions and issues.  I don't know about all that, but I do know they are kinda fun to play with, and now I see them everywhere, including spinning up a [...]

2306, 2017

Geology Rocks!

By |June 23rd, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Pre-School, Science, STEM, Uncategorized, Vocabulary|Tags: , , , , , , |

This week, as part of my Summer Reading Depot Days programs in the park series, we addressed geology; and it rocked! As usual we began the program with some good books, including A Rock is Lively, by Dianna Hutts Aston, and Earthshake: Poems From The Ground Up, by Lisa Westberg Peters. A Rock is Lively gave us lots of good geology vocabulary, including discussion of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rock, and the [...]

1506, 2017

Come see STAR_Net at ALA 2017!

By |June 15th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Members of the STAR_Net team will be exhibiting and providing talks at the upcoming ALA Conference in Chicago from June 22-27. Visit Us at the NASA Booth! We will be at the NASA Booth (#4051), so make sure to stop by to attend our informative NASA Hyperwall presentations on the upcoming 2017 Eclipse and Strange New Planets in addition to a variety of other activities. NASA Booth Hyperwall Presentations 2017 [...]

2305, 2017

Food for Bears in Outdoor Classroom

By |May 23rd, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Math Activities, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |

For the second time in as many years, I had the opportunity to participate in the Outdoor Classroom Trip for a local school district. This event has happened annually at the end of the school year for 11 years, and is run by the science teacher at Kathryn Winn Primary School, which is part of the Carroll County school district. The Outdoor Classroom is owned by a local family, open [...]

2305, 2017

Hands-on STEM: Scale Model of Sun and Earth

By |May 23rd, 2017|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, NASA, Science, Space Exloration, STEM|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

While we all know that the Sun is very big and very far away, its actual size and distance from Earth can be hard concepts to grasp. Many Solar System models that we see inaccurately display the relative size of the Sun compared to the planets, and almost all models inaccurately display the true distance between Solar System objects. This isn't due to a lack of astronomical knowledge, but rather [...]

2205, 2017

Community Photo Walk

By |May 22nd, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

In celebration of the spring weather, Skokie Public Library took our latest offering of Be the Scientist outdoors for a community photo walk. Be the Scientist is an hour-long program offered monthly for kids in grades 3-5 and encourages participants to try on different STEAM-related personas. It is part of a monthly series of programming including Be the Chef and Be the Artist. For this month, we asked participants to [...]

805, 2017

Meteors, Moon Phases, and Sky Maps; Oh My!

By |May 8th, 2017|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Moon, NASA, Science, STEM|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

April was a good time for Astronomy programs, with the Lyrid Meteor Shower on Earth Day this year. We held two different programs in anticipation of the shower; one in the library, and one in a local county park. The program Meet a Meteor began with some meteor basics, including this "What's Up in April" video from NASA. A second video, specifically about the 2015 Lyrid meteor shower, was shared [...]

305, 2017

Paper Engineering Workshop for Tweens

By |May 3rd, 2017|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Engineering, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

During spring break this year, I tried a new program aimed specifically for 8-12 year olds.  We met each afternoon for two hours to work on creating paper automata.  I had a limit of 25 participants, and required pre-registration in order to attend.  Registration started out slow, and about the time I began to get concerned that I wouldn't have enough registrants, all my slots filled up.  The kids were [...]

105, 2017

Tree-mendous Mini Camp a tremendous success!

By |May 1st, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Math Activities, Presentations, Science, STEM, Vocabulary|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Taking advantage of connections to the county parks department, spring weather, and spring break, we tried a new program idea this spring. A Tree-mendous Mini Camp was held on two days in a local county park; we did a variety of tree-related activities, learning games, reading, crafting, and more. For two and a half hours each day on a Tuesday and Wednesday, we hosted a total of nearly 125 students, [...]

2804, 2017

Tomatoes in Containers!

By |April 28th, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Math, Presentations, Science, STEM, Vocabulary|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

We recently made use of Spring Break to host a program presented by our local agricultural Extension Agent. The horticulture agent came to our library to present a program all about tomatoes! She and her assistant talked about different varieties of tomatoes, a little bit of the history of the tomato, what they need to grow successfully, and how to care for the plants. The program was scheduled at 2:00 [...]

2604, 2017

International Peace Crane Swap and a 1000 Cranes From Around the World

By |April 26th, 2017|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

      I know International Peace Day seems like a long way off, but when you're planning to string 1000 cranes contributed from folders all over the world to display in locations equally as diverse, you can never start too early. The United Nation's International Day of Peace is every September 21.  This year, in recognition of the holiday, the International Peace Crane Project is planning a travelling exhibit [...]

1704, 2017

Robot Dance Boot Camp

By |April 17th, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, Technology|Tags: |

Multi-day activity camps made a reappearance at Skokie Public Library during the most recent school break. For 15 kids in grades 3-5, that meant an opportunity to learn the basics of coding with Ozobots and Ozoblockly in a three-day Robot Dance Boot Camp. The premise: spend two hours on each of three consecutive days learning the basics of coding, then apply that learning to create a program for the Ozobot [...]

504, 2017

When The Sun Goes Dark: A New, Richly-illustrated Children’s Book on the Science and Fun of Eclipses

By |April 5th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

Just in time for the “All-American” eclipse of the Sun this August, When the Sun Goes Dark gives the full scoop for kids ages 8 through 12 about why eclipses are so interesting and so beautiful.  Written by astronomers Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz, and published by the National Science Teachers Association Press, the book features hands-on activities for learning about the Moon, the Sun, and their eclipses that families [...]

2703, 2017

The Best Buy Community Grants Program

By |March 27th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

The Best Buy Community Grants Program provides support to community-based organizations that are located within 50 miles of a Best Buy facility. Grants promote programs that offer hands-on learning opportunities for underserved teens to engage in learning, experimenting, and interacting with the latest technologies to build 21st century skills. Eligible programs must deliver community-based youth programs for teens, ages 13-18, during out of school time, and serve a diverse population. [...]

2603, 2017

Green Screen Challenge

By |March 26th, 2017|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Science, Technology|

In December, we wanted to frame our family STEAM program, Mission BOOMbox, around the idea of holiday card giving. We opted for a green screen challenge program that utilized the library’s classroom set of iPads and the purchase of one incredible green screen app in order to allow families to create their own unique greeting card images. Green screen technology has become easier to use with the evolution of apps [...]

2303, 2017

Happy World Water Day!

By |March 23rd, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Presentations, Science, STEM|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

In honor of World Water Day, here is a look at some water resources and program opportunities! I recently had the opportunity, through my involvement as a Project WET Facilitator, to act as a field tester for early childhood water activities. The new guide, Getting Little Feet WET, is available as a digital download beginning today. The printed guide will be available on April 26. The activities we tested were [...]

1703, 2017

Two Million Free Eclipse Glasses Available to Public Libraries for Educational Outreach for August 21 Eclipse of the Sun

By |March 17th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

A Guest Post by Dr. Andrew Fraknoi (Chair, Astronomy Department, Foothill College) On Monday, August 21, 2017, there will be an eclipse of the Sun visible from all of North America. People in a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will see a spectacular total eclipse, with the Moon briefly covering the Sun, and day turning into night. Everyone else (an estimated 500 million people) will see a partial [...]

803, 2017

Paper Quilting – Colored Paper, Creativity, Geometry, and a Little History Mixed In

By |March 8th, 2017|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Geometry, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    It's cold outside (OK, in some parts of the country it is)- the time of the year when people think about curling up under a warm quilt with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book, unless you're a kid, of course.  Sitting still under a warm blanket is really hard when you're young and full of the cabin fever wiggles. But what about reading a great [...]

2102, 2017

Hosting The Discover NASA Exhibit: Part 2. Partnerships

By |February 21st, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

A Guest Post by Nicole Steele/Slover Library While “Astronaut Training” did wonderful things for us regarding Discover NASA partnerships, there was still one vital element missing. Here in Norfolk we are across the water from NASA Langley (a drive that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on tunnel traffic!) and unfortunately we did not manage any NASA Langley representatives at “Astronaut Training.” As you many know, [...]

2002, 2017

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse!

By |February 20th, 2017|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Moon, NASA, Science, Space Exloration, STEM|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

What exactly is a penumbral  lunar eclipse? We recently had the good fortune to be able to explore this in a library program. In a rare event, several circumstances aligned to allow us the opportunity to talk about eclipses, view one as it happened, and help build excitement for the upcoming solar eclipse. Even though Friday evening programs are not typically well-attended, this was a program that really piqued the [...]

1002, 2017

Family Science Expo

By |February 10th, 2017|Categories: Chemistry, Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, Physics, Pre-School, Science, STEM, Vocabulary|

At the end of January, we hosted our fourth annual Family Science Expo here at Skokie Public Library. When we first offered the all-ages family event in winter 2014, we used the same model pioneered by one of our nearby libraries, Des Plaines Public Library: we offered access to a variety of exhibitors from local science-related businesses as well as representatives from STEAM societies and organizations. At that time, we [...]

402, 2017

Free Online Class for Librarians!!

By |February 4th, 2017|Categories: General, Informal Learning, Tutorials|Tags: , , , , |

Any librarians who do programming may be interested in this great opportunity.  It's a chance to learn and help a library sciences student at the same time. The class is called "Mastering Program Planning" and it is being taught by doctoral student Jennifer Brown.  It's a five week class starting February 13, so if you're interested, click on over and get registered.

402, 2017

Poly- What? Learning the language of 3D Geometry

By |February 4th, 2017|Categories: Elementary Aged, General, Informal Geometry, Informal Learning, Informal Math Programming, Math, Math Activities, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Shapes, shapes, and more shapes.  Circle, triangle, square, rectangle - it all starts of easy enough.  Then it get a bit more complicated when you move from two dimensional to three dimensional - sphere, cylinder, pyramid, cube, prism.  Then, before you know it, your tongue is in a knot, and you're totally confused.  Just what does a decagonal gyroelongated bipyramid, compound of truncated icosahedron and pentakisdodecahedron, or a [...]

2301, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017: Programming More Important Leading Up to the Eclipse Than the Day Of

By |January 23rd, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

A STAR_Net Blog Guest Post by Dennis Schatz and Andrew Fraknoi A number of libraries have written to inquire about how to be part of the Moore Foundation grant to get eclipse viewing glasses and information even though they are closed on Mondays, which means they won’t be open when the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse occurs.  The answer to whether they can still be involved is a definite YES. Programming [...]

1801, 2017

Scratch Jr. Code Camp

By |January 18th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

This past winter break, Skokie Public Library experimented with offering a variety of 3-day camps for patrons grades K-5, all in some way connected to STEAM topics. One camp for grades K-2 focused on coding using Scratch Jr., a free iOS app that is an adaptation of the web-based, visual programming language Scratch intended for younger audiences. We chose Scratch Jr. for several reasons. The fact that the platform is [...]

1701, 2017

Digital Learning Day

By |January 17th, 2017|Categories: STEM, Technology|

By Sarah Lawler, Director of Partnerships & Outreach, Fayetteville Free Library At the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL), digital resources are a priority. We work tirelessly to discover and implement online resources that patrons are looking for. The library’s digital resource collection includes Overdrive, Cloud Library, Freegal, Mango Languages, Flipster, and more. Promotion of these services is essential to their success. At the FFL, we are lucky to have a marketing [...]

501, 2017

Girls STEAM Ahead with NASA

By |January 5th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

Celebrate Science and Women’s History Month with NASA Science Education Partners Guest Post By Bonnie Meinke / Space Telescope Science Institute Help your community explore the wonders of NASA science, and celebrate the contribution of women to STEM! Libraries will have the opportunity to host events related to NASA's scientific explorations of the universe beginning in March for Women's History Month. NASA’s Universe of Learning astronomy education program is celebrating [...]

501, 2017

Connecting with STEM in Public Libraries!

By |January 5th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

By Dr. Annette Shtivelband, Founder / Principal Consultant, Research Evaluation Consulting, LLC Think of the students you help every day. These kids have dreams for the future – some want to become teachers, doctors, firefighters or astronauts – and when they are young, the options seem limitless. However, as students age, they may not receive the support and encouragement they need to reach their dreams. In some cases, they may [...]

401, 2017

Dream Big to Build a Better World

By |January 4th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|

  By Jeannine Finton, Senior Manager of Pre-College Outreach, American Society of Civil Engineers This year’s Summer Reading Theme is “Build a Better World.” This is a great opportunity to introduce people to engineering, especially civil engineering. Civil engineers design, build, and maintain all the things that connect us and let us live in safe, healthy communities such as our roads and bridges, drinking water and energy systems, sea ports and airports, and [...]

2212, 2016

Hosting The Discover NASA Exhibit: Part 1. How We Started

By |December 22nd, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|

A Guest Post by Nicole Steele/Slover Library After the initial euphoria of being selected to host Discover NASA: From Our Town to Outer Space had settled down a little bit, it was time to face facts. Now that we were going to get the exhibit, we had to actually flesh out not only the programming, but the partnerships that would allow us to provide that programming. We began where you [...]

1512, 2016

DNA Extraction from Cheek Cells

By |December 15th, 2016|Categories: Chemistry, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Science|

We know that hands-on experimentation often leads to more meaningful learner engagement and a deeper understanding of concepts. We recently facilitated a catchy yet easy-to-execute experiment during drop-in hours in the BOOMbox, Skokie Public Library’s STEAM learning space. Our experiment: human DNA extraction. While DNA extraction may seem daunting, this experiment is relatively simple and uses inexpensive household items. And we were even able to complete the experiment without a [...]

1412, 2016

Family Coding at Fayetteville Free Library

By |December 14th, 2016|Categories: STEM, Technology|Tags: |

By Stephanie Prato Director of Play to Learn Services Fayetteville Free Library At the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) we are working to offer coding opportunities for all ages through the public library’s informal learning platform. We introduce young children to programming logic, we teach elementary and middle school children coding languages, and we support adults in skill building and career shifts. Normally we break up our participants by grade: kindergarten [...]

1312, 2016

Learning the Colors With Wizard’s Brew and Picture Books

By |December 13th, 2016|Categories: Arts, Informal Learning, Pre-School, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Recently, I got the opportunity to fill in at another branch and do the preschool story times there while their children's librarian was out for several weeks.  It was great!  I had a wonderful time planning and presenting preschool storytime again after doing mostly school-aged programs for the last several years. One storytime the kids and parents really enjoyed was focused on the colors and how they mix to create new [...]

712, 2016

Go (Igo, Baduk, ) for Kids? You Bet!!

By |December 7th, 2016|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Informal Math Programming, Middle School Aged, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

             What is Go?  Well, besides being one of the words in the dictionary with a ridiculous number of definitions, it is the American name for the oldest board game in the world still being played in its original form and using the same rules devised over 2,000 years ago. By comparison, the rules of chess were finally established a mere 200 or so years [...]

811, 2016

Family Escape Room Challenge

By |November 8th, 2016|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, Science|

A family working on Gravity Maze challenge cards. Have you noticed the escape room trend popping up in library programming? We decided to jump on that bandwagon and framed our latest STEAM family challenge program around the escape room trend, incorporating logic and teamwork around a series of puzzles. I’ve mentioned Mission: BOOMbox in a previous post about architecture themed programming; the program lasts one hour and is [...]

411, 2016

Origami Club for Kids! What a Hit!

By |November 4th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|

                           My first attempt at a long running kids' club was met with incredible enthusiasm, by kids and parents alike.  After years of watching kids come into the library asking for origami books, and walking out empty-handed, unable to find exactly what they wanted, or unable to decipher the instructions in the books, I decided to try having an origami [...]

1710, 2016

Cardboard Creations!

By |October 17th, 2016|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Geometry, Informal Learning, Informal Math Programming, Spacial Thinking, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

What can you do with an hour, a large box, some assorted IKEA packing materials, a few plastic fasteners, and some kids? All kinds of cool things! We recently held another "open building" program at KCPL. This time, our building materials included one very large box, pieces of cardboard of various sizes, shapes, and thickness, some plastic hinges and fasteners, and plastic saw/punch tools. Those in attendance were given a [...]

1610, 2016

Looking for programs in all the cool places…

By |October 16th, 2016|Categories: environmental education, Informal Learning, Presentations, Uncategorized|

In the never-ending quest for new/different/more/exciting program opportunities, I often find myself attending events for which I may or may not actually be the target market. One such recent event was the Ultimate Educator Expo sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Environmental Educators at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. I have attended this event in the past, finding many useful programming ideas and contacts. While the event is generally [...]

1610, 2016

Pumpkins! (with STEMs!)

By |October 16th, 2016|Categories: Arts, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Informal Math Programming, Math, Math Activities, Pre-School, Science, STEM, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Happy October! Like the rest of the known (well, at least here in the Midwest!) world, you CAN bring pumpkins into your programming! But there are ways to do this which include many STEM concepts as well as fun! There are many great fiction titles about pumpkins, some of which actually follow the life cycle of the pumpkin. A few of my favorites of those titles are: Pumpkin Pumpkin, by [...]

710, 2016

Tools & the Brain

By |October 7th, 2016|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, STEM|

Our library recently hosted the traveling exhibit Exploring Human Origins, which came to Skokie from the Smithsonian Institution through an ALA grant. In addition to the exhibit itself, we hosted a number of programs for all ages to engage in the topic of humans and evolution. Our cornerstone youth event, for kids in third through fifth grade, focused on exploring tools and the brain. Here’s what we did. To kick [...]

510, 2016

STEM in Libraries: Resources for Emerging and Established Leaders

By |October 5th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|

The 2015 Public Libraries & STEM conference was the first of its kind for bringing professionals from the library and STEM professions together. Here, participants engaged in hands-on teamwork with Keva planks. The National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL)/Space Science Institute is pleased to announce the launch of a new collection of resources on the STAR_Net website to support library staff who want to begin or further develop [...]

2909, 2016

A Twist on Traditional Book Clubs Using Skype

By |September 29th, 2016|Categories: General, Science, Technology|

By: Monica Kuryla, Director of Innovation Acceleration   The Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) offers an innovative and inexpensive twist on traditional book clubs using Skype.  Adding technology to a traditional book discussion is a fantastic way to enhance the book club experience for both the author and book club attendees.  The lively conversations that come out of the Skype program add a new level of appreciation of the art of reading [...]

1609, 2016

Tiny Terrariums

By |September 16th, 2016|Categories: environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Science, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Kenton County Public Library recently held a program called Tiny Terrariums at the Erlanger Branch, and it was very well-attended! Students ages 8-16 were invited to attend, and the program filled at 40 attendees. Many of the students were accompanied by interested adults as well.   We began the program with a presentation of some basics regarding terrariums. Scientific vocabulary was included to make the program a little more than just [...]

1609, 2016

DIY Giant Bubbles

By |September 16th, 2016|Categories: Chemistry, Elementary Aged, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Physics, Science, STEM|

The last weeks of summer are a great time to take science outside. At Skokie Public Library, we featured giant bubbles and bubble wand making at two outdoor events, one at a local school and one in conjunction with a bookmobile visit in the community. Here’s what we did. Photo by Andrew Dworek Two staff members were present to help with setting up the supplies and to assist [...]

1509, 2016

Honey, what’s the deal with the bees?

By |September 15th, 2016|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, News, Science, Uncategorized|

There had been a lot of talk about the decline of honey bees for a while, and then you heard less about it. As researchers were working to pinpoint what exactly was causing their demise, the news world moved on to more interesting topics. Now suddenly, after officials sprayed pesticides aimed at mosquitoes potentially carrying the Zika virus, they are sadly in the news again. Articles such as this one  appeared [...]

809, 2016

Museum Alliance Professional Development Conversation

By |September 8th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|

Please join us for this free telecon! Museum Alliance Professional Development Conversation Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Time: 12 noon Pacific (3:00 pm Eastern) Leader: Jeff Nee Subject:  Planetary Geology: How Old is That?      Overview: This presentation is an exploration of how radioisotopes are used to establish the ages of geologic materials from Earth and elsewhere in the solar system. Content includes: 1) basic concepts of radioactive decay are presented; 2) specific applications to the dating [...]

809, 2016

Coding Clubs: Youth Programming for Public Libraries

By |September 8th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|

Please join us for this free webinar to learn about successful coding club programs for youth in public libraries. Coding Clubs: Youth Programming for Public Libraries Wed, September 28, 2016, 11:00am-12:00pm PDT Registration link: Does your library offer programs related to coding? Coding is quickly gaining traction as an essential digital skill in the 21st century, and many public libraries are offering coding classes for youth and adults as a way of promoting [...]

2708, 2016

Edible Rocks??? Definitely!

By |August 27th, 2016|Categories: astronomy, Elementary Aged, Informal Learning, Next Generation Science Standards, Science, Space Exloration, STEM, Vocabulary|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

         The Lunar and Planetary Institute has done it again!  They have developed another delicious educational experience to share with libraries and educators - Edible Rocks. Who would want to try to eat a rock?  Just about everyone, when the "rocks" are chocolate bars, "Three Musketeers" (the candy, not the book or movie), "Nestle Crunch," and chocolate covered granola bars. In this activity, children learn and use terms that [...]

1908, 2016

Carnivorous Plants and the magic of Plant Regeneration and Propagation

By |August 19th, 2016|Categories: Elementary Aged, environmental education, General, Informal Learning, Middle School Aged, Next Generation Science Standards, Science|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

               A few weeks ago,  I came across a very interesting online store, the Carnivorous Plant Nursery.   Their focus, shockingly, is on propagating and selling carnivorous plants from all over the world.  But they also believe in education and helping educators of all kinds.  To this end, they have a "Free Stuff" page on their website.  There I found a printable, color and [...]

1108, 2016

Roller Coaster Family Challenge

By |August 11th, 2016|Categories: Elementary Aged, Engineering, Informal Learning, Physics, STEM|Tags: , |

Long collaborative coaster We’ve been exploring all things architecture this summer in the BOOMbox, Skokie Public Library’s experiential learning STEAM space. I’ve mentioned a foray into preschool programming around the architecture theme in a previous post, and now I’m glad to share a challenge aimed at this school-age audience. We just hosted our second architecture-themed STEAM family challenge of the summer: it’s a one-hour program for youth in [...]

908, 2016

Perseid Meteor Shower – August 11 & 12

By |August 9th, 2016|Categories: astronomy|

By Andrew Fraknoi | Exploring the Universe Image Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO) This Thursday and Friday, there will be one of the best annual meteor showers you and your family can watch -– the Perseids.    And some experts are even predicting that there might be a meteor “outburst” this year –- where the number of shooting stars increases beyond the usual rates. This is a complicated year for watching the Perseid [...]

608, 2016

3-D Origami – The Fun of Legos on a Much Smaller Budget

By |August 6th, 2016|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Engineering, Middle School Aged, Spacial Thinking, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Fate is a funny thing.  A few months ago I got ambitious one week, and wrote and published ( I thought) three blog articles.  Unbeknownst to me, it was the same week that the STAR_Net blog was being moved to its new home on this website.  For some reason, one of my articles made the move.  The other two disappeared into the ether.  I could have taken this experience as [...]

308, 2016

What is the Lowest Maintenance Pet of All?

By |August 3rd, 2016|Categories: Arts, Elementary Aged, Middle School Aged, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

  A few weeks ago I decided to have a program where the kids could relax and let their creative juices flow, and where some of the parents/grandparents could flash back to their own childhoods and have a good laugh.  The program, I expected, would be a short one.  Then we could spend the rest of the time making thank you cards and notes for our summer reading club sponsors.  It was [...]